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•  « 


•         • 






V    • 






ON    WAR; 






N.  TEIJBNEB  &  CO.,  57  &  59,  LUDGATE  HILL. 


^3/.      ^        ?/. 


rniVTSD   BT   WBKTIIKniEB,    LBA    AND  CO., 




It  will  naturally  excite  surprise  that  a  preface  by  a  female  hand  should  accom- 
pany a  work  on  such  a  subject  as  the  present.  For  my  friends  no  explanation 
of  the  circumstance  is  required ;  but  I  hope  by  a  simple  relation  of  the  cause  to 
clear  myself  of  the  appearance  of  presumption  in  the  eyes  also  of  those  to  whom 
I  am  not  known. 

The  work  to  which  these  lines  serve  as  a  preface  occupied  almost  entirely 
the  last  twelve  years  of  the  life  of  my  inexpressibly  beloved  husband,  who  has 
unfortunately  been  torn  too  soon  from  myself  and  my  country.  To  complete 
it,  was  his  most  earnest  desire;  but  it  was  not  his  intention  that  it  should 
be  published  during  his  life ;  and  if  I  tried  to  persuade  him  to  alter  that  inten- 
tion, he  often  answered,  half  in  jest,  but  also,  perhaps,  half  in  a  foreboding 
of  early  death :  "  Thou  shalt  publish  it.^'  These  words  (which  in  those  happy 
days  often  drew  tears  from  me,  little  as  I  was  inclined  to  attach  a  serious  mean- 
ing to  them)  make  it  now,  in  the  opinion  of  my  friends,  a  duty  incumbent  on 
me  to  introduce  the  posthumous  works  of  my  beloved  husband,  with  a  few 
prefatory  lines  from  myself;  and  although  there  may  be  a  difference  of  opinion 
on  this  point,  still  I  am  sure  there  will  be  no  mistake  as  to  the  feeling  which 
has  prompted  me  to  overcome  the  timidity  which  makes  any  such  appearance, 
even  in  a  subordinate  part^  so  difficult  for  a  woman. 

It  will  be  understood,  as  a  matter  of  course,  that  I  cannot  have  the  most 
remote  intention  of  considering  myself  as  the  real  editress  of  a  work  which  is 
far  above  the  scope  of  my  capacity :  I  only  stand  at  its  side  as  an  affectionate 
companion  on  its  entrance  into  the  world.  This  position  I  may  well  cLiim,  as 
a  similar  one  was  allowed  me  during  its  formation  and  progress.  Those  who 
are  acquainted  with  our  happy  married  life,  and  know  how  we  shared  every^ 
thing  with  each  other—  not  only  joy  and  sorrow,  but  also  every  occupation, 
every  interest  of  daily  life — will  imderstand  that  my  beloved  husband  could  not 
be  occupied  on  a  work  of  this  kind  without  its  being  known  to  me.  Therefore, 
no  one  can  like  me  bear  testimony  to  the  zeal,  to  the  love  with  which  he 
laboured  on  it,  to  the  hopes  which  he  bound  up  with  it,  as  well  as  the  manner 
and  time  of  its  elaboration.     His  richly  gifted  mind  had  from  his  eaily  youth 


longed  for  light  and  truth,  and  varied  as  were  his  talents,  still  he  had  chiefly 
directed  his  reflections  to  the  science  of  war,  to  which  the  duties  of  his  profes- 
sion called  him,  and  which  are  of  such  importance  for  the  benefit  of  states. 
Scharnhorst  was  the  first  to  lead  him  into  the  right  road,  and  his  subsequent 
appointment  in  1810  as  Instructor  at  the  General  War  School,  as  well  as  the 
honour  conferred  on  him  at  the  same  time,  of  giving  military  instruction  to 
H.R.H.  the  Crown  Prince,  tended  further  to  give  his  investigations  and  studies 
that  direction,  and  to  lead  him  to  put  down  in  writing  whatever  conclusions  he 
arrived  at.  A  paper  with  which  he  finished  the  instruction  of  H.R.H.  the 
Crown  Prince  contains  the  germ  of  his  subsequent  works.  But  it  was  in  the 
year  1816,  at  Coblentz,  that  he  first  devoted  himself  again  to  scientific  labours 
and  to  collecting  the  fruits  which  his  rich  experience  in  those  four  eventful 
years  had  brought  to  maturity.  He  wrote  down  his  views  in  the  first  place,  in 
short  essays,  only  loosely  connected  with  each  other.  The  following,  without 
date,  which  has  been  found  amongst  his  papers,  seems  to  belong  to  those  early 

"  In  the  principles  here  committed  to  paper,  in  my  opinion,  the  chief 
things  which  compose  strategy,  as  it  is  called,  are  touched  upon.  I  looked 
upon  them  only  as  materials,  and  had  just  got  to  such  a  length  towards  the 
moolding  them  into  a  whole. 

"  These  materials  have  been  amassed  without  any  regularly  preconceived 
plan.  My  view  was  at  first,  without  regard  to  system  and  strict  connection,  to 
put  down  the  results  of  my  reflections  upon  the  most  important  points  in  quite 
brief,  precise,  compact  propositions.  The  manner  in  which  Montesquieu  has 
treated  his  subject,  floated  before  me  in  idea.  I  thought  that  concise,  senten- 
tious chapters,  which  I  proposed  at  first  to  call  grains,  would  attract  the 
attention  of  the  intelligent  just  as  much  by  that  which  was  to  be  developed  from 
them,  as  by  that  which  they  contained  in  themselves.  I  had  therefore  before 
me  in  idea,  intelligent  readers  already  acquainted  with  the  subject.  But  my 
nature,  which  always  impels  me  to  development  and  sy stoma tising,  at  last 
worked  its  way  out  also  in  this  instance.  For  some  time  I  was  able  to  confine 
myself  to  extracting  only  the  most  important  results  from  the  essays,  which,  to 
s^ttain  clearness  and  conviction  in  my  own  mind,  I  wrote  upon  difierent  subjects, 
to  concentrating  in  that  manner  their  spirit  in  a  small  compass ;  but  afterwards 
my  peculiarity  gained  ascendency  completely — I  have  developed  what  I  could, 
and  thus  naturally  have  supposed  a  reader  not  yet  acquainted  with  the  subject. 

"  The  more  I  advanced  with  the  work,  and  the  more  I  yielded  to  the  spirit 
of  investigation,  so  much  the  more  I  was  also  led  to  system  ;  and  thus,  then, 
chapter  aft^  chapter  has  been  inserted. 


"  My  ultimate  view  has  now  been  to  go  through  the  whole  once  more,  to 
establish  by  further  explanation  much  of  the  earlier  treatises,  and  perhaps  to 
condense  into  results  many  analyses  on  the  later  ones,  and  thus  to  make  a 
moderate  whole  out  of  it,  forming  a  small  octavo  volume.  But  it  was  my  wish 
also  in  this  to  avoid  everything  common,  everything  that  is  plain  of  itself, 
that  has  been  said  a  hundred  times,  and  is  generally  accepted ;  for  my  ambition 
was  to  write  a  book  that  would  not  be  forgotten  in  two  or  three  years,  and 
which  any  one  interested  in  the  subject  would  at  all  events  take  up  more  than 


In  Coblenz,  where  he  was  much  occupied  with  duty,  he  could  only  give 
occasional  hours  to  his  private  studies.  It  was  not  until  1818,  after  his  appoint- 
ment as  Director  of  the  General  Academy  of  War  at  Berlin,  that  he  had  the 
leisure  to  expand  his  work,  and  enrich  it  from  the  history  of  modem  wars. 
This  leisure  also  reconciled  him  to  his  new  avocation,  which,  in  other  respects, 
was  not  satisfactory  to  him,  as,-  according  to  the  existing  organisation  of  the 
Academy,  the  scientific  part  of  the  course  is  not  under  the  Director,  but  con« 
ducted  by  a  Board  of  Studies.  Free  as  he  was  from  all  petty  vanity,  from 
every  feeling  of  restless,  egotistical  ambition,  still  he  felt  a  desire  to  be  really 
useful,  and  not  to  leave  inactive  the  abilities  with  which  God  had  endowed  him. 
In  active  life  he  was  not  in  a  position  in  which  this  longing  could  be  satisfied, 
and  he  had  little  hope  of  attaining  to  any  such  position :  his  whole  energies 
were  therefore  directed  upon  the  domain  of  science,  and  the  benefit  which  he 
hoped  to  lay  the  foundation  of  by  his  work  was  the  object  of  his  life.  That, 
notwithstanding  this,  the  resolution  not  to  let  the  work  appear  until  after  his 
death  became  more  confirmed,  is  the  best  proof  that  no  vain,  paltry  longing  for 
praise  and  distinction,  no  particle  of  egotistical  views,  was  mixed  up  with  this 
noble  aspiration  for  great  and  lasting  usefulness. 

Thus  he  worked  diligently  on,  until,  in  the  spring  of  1830,  he  was  appointed 
to  the  artillery,  and  his  energies  were  called  into  activity  in  such  a  different 
sphere,  and  to  such  a  high  degree,  that  he  was  obliged,  for  the  present  at 
least,  to  give  up  all  literary  work.  He  then  put  his  papers  in  order,  sealed  up 
the  separate  packets,  labelled  them,  and  took  sorrowful  leave  of  this  employ^ 
ment  which  he  loved  so  much.  He  was  sent  to  Breslau  in  August  of  the  same 
year,  as  Chief  of  the  Second  Artillery  District,  but  in  December  recalled  to 
Berlin,  and  appointed  Chief  of  the  Staff  to  Field  Marshal  Count  Gneisenau 
(for  the  term  of  his  conmiand).  In  March,  1831,  he  accompanied  his  revered 
Commander  to  Posen.  When  he  returned  from  there  to  Breslau  in  November 
after  the  melancholy  event  which  had  taken  place,  he  hoped  to  resume  his 
work,  and  perhaps  complete  it  in  the  course  of  the  winter.     The  Almighty 


has  willed  it  should  be  otherwise.  On  the  7th  November,  he  returned  to 
Breslau ;  on  the  16th  he  was  no  more ;  and  the  packets  sealed  by  himself  were 
not  opened  until  after  his  death. 

The  papers  thus  left  are  those  now  made  public  in  the  following  volumes, 
exactly  in  the  condition  in  which  they  were  found,  without  a  word  being  added 
or  erased.  Still,  however,  there  was  much  to  do  before  publication,  in  the  way 
of  putting  them  in  order  and  consulting  about  them  ;  and  I  am  deeply  indebted 
to  several  sincere  friends  for  the  assistance  they  have  afforded  me,  particularly 
Major  0*Etzel,  who  kindly  undertook  the  correction  of  the  Press,  as  well  as  the 
preparation  of  the  maps  to  accompany  the  historical  parts  of  the  work.  I 
must  also  mention  my  much-loved  brother,  who  was  my  support  in  the  hour 
of  my  misfortune,  and  who  has  also  done  much  for  me  in  respect  of  these 
papers;  amongst  other  things,  by  carefully  examining  and  putting  them  in 
order,  he  foimd  the  commencement  of  the  revision  which  my  dear  husband 
wrote  in  the  year  1827,  and  mentions  in  the  Notice  hereafter  annexed,  as  a  work 
he  had  in  view.  This  revision  has  been  inserted  in  the  place  intended  for  it 
in  the  first  book  (for  it  does  not  go  any  further). 

There  are  still  many  other  friends  to  whom  I  might  offer  my  thanks  for 
their  advice,  for  the  sympathy  and  friendship  which  they  have  shown  me ; 
but  if  I  do  not  name  them  all,  they  will,  I  am  sure,  not  have  any  doubts 
of  my  sincere  gratitude.  It  is  all  the  greater,  from  my  firm  conviction  that 
all  they  have  done  was  not  only  on  my  own  account,  but  for  the  friend  whom 
Ood  has  thus  called  away  from  them  so  soon. 

If  I  have  been  highly  blessed  as  the  wife  of  such  a  man  during  one-and- 
twenty  years,  so  am  I  still,  notwithstanding  my  irreparable  loss,  by  the  treasure 
of  my  recollections  and  of  my  hopes,  by  the  rich  legacy  of  sympathy  and 
friendship  which  I  owe  the  beloved  departed,  by  the  elevating  feeling  which 
I  experience  at  seeing  his  rare  worth  so  generally  and  honourably  acknow- 

The  trust  confided  to  me  by  a  royal  couple  is  a  fresh  benefit  for  which  I 
have  to  thank  the  Almighty,  as  it  opens  to  me  an  honourable  occupation,  to 
which  I  cheerfully  devote  myself.  May  this  occupation  be  blessed,  and  may 
the  dear  little  Prince  who  is  n9w  entrusted  to  my  care,  some  day  read  this  book, 
and  be  animated  by  it  to  deeds  like  those  of  his  glorious  ancestors. 

Written  at  the  Marble  Palace,  Potsdam,  30th  June,  1832. 


horn  Countess  Briihl, 
Oberhofmeisterinn  to  II.R.H.  the  Princess  William. 


I  LOOK  upon  the  £arst  six  books,  of  which  a  fair  copy  has  now  been  made,  as  only 
a  mass  which  is  still  in  a  manner  without  form,  and  which  has  yet  to  be  again 
revised.  In  this  reyision  the  two  kinds  of  war  will  be  everywhere  kept  more 
distinctly  in  view,  by  which  all  ideas  will  acquire  a  clearer  meaning,  a  more  precise 
direction,  and  a  closer  application.  The  two  kinds  of  war  are,  first,  those  in  which 
the  object  is  the  overthrow  of  the  enemy ^  whether  it  be  that  we  aim  at  his  destructioni 
politically,  or  merely  at  disarming  him  and  forcing  him  to  conclude  peace  on  oux 
terms ;  and  next,  those  in  which  our  object  is  merely  to  make  some  conquesta  on  the 
frontiers  of  his  country,  either  for  the  purpose  of  retaining  them  permanently,  or  of 
turning  them  to  account  as  matter  of  exchange  in  the  settlement  of  a  peace.  Transi- 
tion from  one  kind  to  the  other  must  certainly  continue  to  exist,  but  the  completely 
different  nature  of  the  tendencies  of  the  two  must  everywhere  appear,  and  must 
separate  from  each  other  things  which  are  incompatible. 

Besides  establishing  this  real  difference  in  wars,  another  practically  necessary 
point  of  view  must  at  the  same  time  be  established,  which  is,  that  war  is  only  a 
continuation  of  state  policy  by  other  means.  This  point  of  view  being  adhered  to 
everywhere,  will  introduce  much  more  unity  into  the  consideration  of  the  subject,  and 
things  will  be  more  easily  disentangled  from  each  other.  Although  the  chief  appli- 
cation of  this  point  of  view  does  not  commence  until  we  get  to  the  eighth  book,  still 
it  must  be  completely  developed  in  the  first  book,  and  also  lend  assistance  throughout 
the  revision  of  the  first  six  books.  Through  such  a  revision  the  first  six  books 
will  get  rid  of  a  good  deal  of  dross,  many  rents  and  chasms  will  be  closed  up,  and 
much  that  is  of  a  general  nature  will  be  transformed  into  distinct  conceptions  and 

The  seventh  book — on  attack — for  the  different  chapters  of  which  sketches  are 
already  made,  is  to  be  considered  as  a  reflection  of  the  sixth,  and  must  be  completed 
at  once,  according  to  the  above-mentioned  more  distinct  points  of  view,  so  that  it 
wiU  require  no  fresh  revision,  but  rather  may  serve  as  norm  in  the  revision  of  the 
first  six  books. 

Vlll  NOTICE. 

For  the  eighth  book — on  the  Plan  of  a  war,  that  is,  of  the  organisation  of  a 
whole  war  in  general — seyeral  chapters  are  planned,  but  they  are  not  at  all  to  be 
regarded  as  real  materials,  they  are  merely  a  track,  roughly  deared,  as  it  were, 
through  the  mass,  in  order  by  that  means  to  ascertain  the  points  of  most  importance. 
They  have  answered  this  object,  and  I  propose,  on  finishing  the  seventh  book,  to 
proceed  at  once  to  the  working  out  of  the  eighth,  where  the  two  points  of  yiew 
above-mentioned  will  be  chiefly  affirmed,  by  which  everything  will  be  simplified, 
and  at  the  same  time  have  a  spirit  breathed  into  it.  I  hope  in  this  book  to  iron 
out  many  creases  in  the  heads  of  strategists  and  statesmen,  and  at  least  to  show 
the  object  of  action,  and  the  real  point  to  be  considered  in  war. 

Now,  when  I  have  brought  my  ideas  clearly  out  by  finishing  this  eigh(;h  book, 
and  have  properly  established  the  leading  features  of  war,  it  will  be  easier  for  me 
to  carry  the  spirit  of  these  ideas  into  the  first  six  books,  and  to  make  these  same 
features  show  themselves  everywhere.  Therefore  I  shall  defer  till  then  the  re- 
vision of  the  first  six  books. 

Should  the  work  be  interrupted  by  my  death,  then  what  is  found  can  only  be 
called  a  mass  of  conceptions  not  brought  into  form ;  but  as  these  are  open  to  end- 
less misconceptions,  they  will  doubtless  give  rise  to  a  number  of  crude  criticisms : 
for,  in  these  things,  every  one  thinks,  when  he  takes  up  his  pen,  that  whatever 
comes  into  his  head  is  worth  saying  and  printing,  and  quite  as  incontrovertible  as 
that  twice  two  make  four.  If  such  an  one  would  take  the  pains,  as  I  have  done, 
'  to  think  over  the  subject,  for  years,  and  to  compare  his  ideas  with  military  history, 
he  would  certainly  be  a  little  more  guarded  in  his  criticism. 

Still,  notwithstanding  this  imperfect  form,  I  believe  that  an  impartial  reader, 
thirsting  for  truth  and  conviction,  will  rightly  appreciate  in  the  first  six  books 
the  fruits  of  several  years*  reflection  and  a  diligent  study  of  war,  and  that,  perhaps, 
he  will  find  in  them  some  leading  ideas  which  may  bring  about  a  revolution  in  the 
theory  of  war. 

Berlin,  lO^A  Jtify,  1827. 

Besides  this  notice,  amongst  the  papers  left,  was  found  the  following  un- 
finished memorandum,  which  appears  of  very  recent  date : — 

The  manuscript  on  the  conduct  of  the  Grande  Guerre,  which  will  be  found 
after  my  death,  in  its  present  state  can  only  be  regarded  as  a  collection  of 
materials  from  which  it  is  intended  to  construct  a  theory  of  war.  With  the  greater 
part  I  am  not  yet  satisfied ;  and  the  sixth  book  is  to  be  looked  at  as  a  mere  essay : 
I  should  have  completely  remodelled  it,  and  have  tried  a  different  line. 


But  the  ruling  principles  which  pervade  these  materials  1  hold  to  be  the  right 
ones :  they  are  the  result  of  a  very  yaried  reflection,  keeping  always  in  view  the 
reality,  and  always  bearing  in  mind  what  I  have  learnt  by  experience  and  by  my 
intercourse  with  distinguished  soldiers. 

The  seventh  book  is  to  contain  the  attack,  the  subjects  of  which  are  thrown 
together  in  a  hasty  manner :  the  eighth,  the  plan  for  a  war,  in  which  I  would  have 
examined  war  more  especially  in  its  political  and  human  aspects. 

The  first  chapter  of  the  first  book  is  the  only  one  which  I  consider  as 
completed ;  it  will  at  least  serve  to  show  the  manner  in  which  I  proposed  to  treat 
the  subject  throughout. 

The  theory  of  the  Grande  Gtierre,  or  strategy,  as  it  is  ccJled,  is  beset  with  extra- 
ordinary difficulties,  and  we  may  affirm  that  very  few  men  have  dear  conceptions 
of  the  separate  subjects,  that  is,  conceptions  carried  up  to  the  necessary  in  logical 
connection.  In  real  action  most  men  are  guided  merely  by  the  tact  of  judgment 
which  hits  the  object  more  or  less  accurately,  according  as  they  possess  more  or 
less  genius. 

This  is  the  way  in  which  all  great  generals  have  acted,  and  therein  partly  lay 
their  greatness  and  their  genius,  that  they  always  hit  upon  what  was  right  by  this 
tact.  Thus  also  it  will  always  be  in  action,  and  so  far  this  tact  is  amply  sufficient. 
But  when  it  is  a  question,  not  of  acting  oneself,  but  of  convincing  others  in  a 
consultation,  then  all  depends  on  clear  conceptions  and  demonstration  of  the  inherent 
relations,  and  so  little  progress  has  been  made  in  this  respect,  that  most  delibera- 
tions are  merely  a  contention  of  words,  resting  on  no  firm  basis,  and  ending  either 
in  every  one  retaining  his  own  opinion,  or  in  a  compromise  from  mutual  con- 
siderations of  respect,  a  middle  course,  really  without  any  value. 

Clear  ideas  on  these  matters  are  therefore  not  wholly  useless;  besides,  the 
human  mind  has  a  general  tendency  to  clearness,  and  always  wants  to  be  consistent 
with  the  necessary  order  of  things. 

Owing  to  the  great  difficulties  attending  a  philosophical  construction  of  the  art 
of  war,  and  the  many  attempts  at  it  that  have  failed,  most  people  have  come  to  the 
conclusion  that  such  a  theory  is  impossible,  because  it  concerns  things  which  no 
standing  law  can  embrace.  We  should  also  join  in  this  opinion  and  give  up  any 
attempt  at  a  theory,  were  it  not  that  a  great  number  of  propositions  make  them- 
selves evident  without  any  difficulty,  as,  for  instance,  that  the  defensive  form,  with 
a  negative  object,  is  the  stronger  form,  the  attack  with  the  positive  object,  the  weaker 
—that  great  restilts  ccurry  the  little  ones  with  them — that,  therefore,  strategic  effects 
may  be  referred  to  certain  centres  of  gravity — that  a  demonstration  is  a  weaker 
application  of  force  than  a  real  attack,  that,  therefore,  there  must  be  some  speci  al 
reason  for  resorting  to  the  former — that  victory  consists  not  merely  in  the  conquest 
on   the    field  of  battle,  but  in  the  destruction  of  armed  forces,    physically    and 


morally,  which,  can  in  general  only  be  effected  by  a  pursuit  after  the  battle  is 
gained  ~  that  successes  are  always  greatest  at  the  point  where  the  Tictory  has  been 
gained,  that,  therefore,  the  change  from  one  line  and  object  to  another  can  only  be 
regarded  as  a  necessary  evil— that  a  turning  movement  is  only  justified  by  a  supe- 
riority of  numbers  generally  or  by  the  advantage  of  our  lines  of  communication 
and  retreat  over  those  of  the  enemy — that  flank  positions  are  only  justifiable  on 
similar  grounds— that  every  attack  becomes  weaker  as  it  progresses. 


That  the  conception  of  the  scientific  does  not  consist  alone,  or  cliieflj,  in  system, 
and  its  finished  theoretical  constructions,  requires  now-a-dajs  no  exposition.  .  System 
in  this  treatise  is  not  to  be  found  on  the  surface,  and  instead  of  a  finished  building 
of  theory,  there  are  only  materials. 

The  scientific  form  lies  here  in  the  endeavour  to  explore  the  nature  of  military 
phenomena  to  show  their  affinity  with  the  nature  of  the  things  of  which  they  are 
composed.  Nowhere  has  the  philosophical  argument  been  evaded,  but  where  it 
runs  out  into  too  thin  a  thread  the  Author  has  preferred  to  cut  it  short,  and  fall 
back  upon  the  corresponding  results  of  experience ;  for  in  the  same  way  as  many 
plants  only  bear  fruit  when  they  do  not  shoot  too  high,  so  in  the  practical  arts  the 
theoretical  leaves  and  flowers  must  not  be  made  to  sprout  too  far,  but  kept  near  to 
experience,  which  is  their  proper  soil. 

Unquestionably  it  would  be  a  mistake  to  try  to  discover  from  tiie  chemical 
ingredients  of  a  grain  of  com  the  form  of  the  ear  of  com  which  it  bears,  as  we  have  • 
only  to  go  to  the  field  to  see  the  ears  ripe.  Investigation  and  observation,  philosophy 
and  experience,  must  not  despise  one  another  or  exclude  one  another ;  they  mutually 
afford  each  other  the  rights  of  citizenship.  Consequently,  the  propositions  of  this 
book,  with  their  arch  of  inherent  necessity,  are  supported  either  by  experience  or  by 
the  conception  of  war  itself  as  external  points,  so  that  they  are  not  without 

It  is,  perhaps,  not  impossible  to  write  a  systematic  theory  of  war  full  of  spirit 
and  substance,  but  ours,  hitherto,  have  been  very  much  the  reverse.  To  say  nothing 
of  their  unscientific  spirit,  in  their  striving  after  coherence  and  completeness  of  system, 
they  overflow  with  conmion  places,  truisms,  and  twaddle  of  eveiy  kind.  If  we  want  a 
striking  picture  of  them  we  have  only  to  read  Lichtenberg's  extract  from  a  code 
of  reg^ations  in  case  of  fire. 

If  a  house  takes  fire,  we  must  seek,  above  all  things,  to  protect  the  right  side 
of  the  house  standing  on  the  left,  and  on  the  other  hand,  the  left  side  of  the  house 
on  the  right ;  for  if  we,  for  example,  should  protect  the  left  side  of  the  house  on  the 
left,  then  the  right  side  of  the  house  lies  to  the  right  of  the  left,  and  consequently  as 

*  That  this  is  not  the  case  in  the  works  of  many  military  writers  especially  of  those  who  have  aimed  at 
treating  of  war  itself  in  a  scientific  manner,  is  shown  in  many  instances,  in  which  hy  their  reasoning,  the 
pro  and  contra  swallow  each  other  up  so  effectually  that  there  Ib  no  vestige  of  tLe  tails  even  which  were 
left  in  the  case  of  the  two  Uons. 


the  fire  lies  to  the  right  of  this  side,  and  of  the  right  side  (for  we  have  assumed  that 
the  house  is  situated  to  the  left  of  the  fire),  therefore  the  right  side  is  situated  nearer 
to  the  fire  than  the  left;,  and  the  right  side  of  the  house  might  catch  fire  if  it  was  not 
protected  before  it  came  to  the  left  which  is  protected.  Consequently,  something 
might  be  burnt  that  is  not  protected,  and  that  sooner  than  something  else  would  be 
burnt,  even  if  it  was  not  protected ;  consequently  we  must  let  alone  the  latter,  and 
protect  the  former.  In  order  to  impress  the  thing  on  one's  mind,  we  have  only  to 
note  if  the  house  is  situated  to  the  right  of  the  fire,  then  it  is  the  left  side,  and  if  the 
house  is  to  the  left  it  is  the  right  side. 

In  order  not  to  frighten  the  intelligent  reader  by  such  common  places,  and  to 
make  the  little  good  that  there  is  distasteful  by  pouring  water  upon  it,  the  Author 
has  preferred  to  give  in  small  ingots  of  fine  metal  his  impressions  and  convictions, 
the  result  of  many  years  reflection  on  war,  of  his  intercourse  with  men  of  ability, 
and  of  much  personal  experience.  Thus  the  seemingly  weakly-boimd-together 
chapters  of  this  book  have  arisen,  but  it  is  hoped  they  will  not  be  found  wanting 
in  logical  connection.  Perhaps  soon  a  greater  head  may  appear,  and  instead  of 
these  single  grains,  give  the  whole  in  a  casting  of  pure  metal  without  dross. 



The  Axtthob  of  the  work  here  translated,  General  Carl  Yon  dausewitz,  was  bom 
at  Burg,  near  Magdeburg,  in  1780,  and  entered  the  Prussian  army  as  Fahnen- 
junker,  in  1792.  He  served  in  the  campaigns  of  1793-94  on  the  Bhine, 
after  which  he  seems  to  have  devoted  some  time  to  the  study  of  the  scientific 
branches  of  his  profession.  In  1801,  he  entered  the  Military  School  at  Berlin  as 
an  ofiB.cer,  and  remained  there  till  1803.  During  his  residence  there  he  attracted 
the  notice  of  General  Schamhorst,  then  at  the  head  of  the  establishment ;  and 
the  patronage  of  this  distinguished  of^cer  may  probably  have  hdd  some  in- 
fluence on  his  future  career.  At  all  events,  we  may  gather  from  his  writings 
that  he  ever  afterwards  continued  to  entertain  a  high  esteem  for  Scharnhorst. 
In  the  campaign  of  1806,  he  served  as  Aide-de-camp  to  Prince  Augustus  of 
Prussia ;  and,  being  wounded  and  taken  prisoner,  he  was  sent  into  France  until 
the  close  of  that  war.  On  his  retui*n,  he  was  placed  on  General  Schamhorst's 
Staif,  and  employed  in  the  work  then  going  on  for  the  re -organisation  of  the 
army.  He  was  also  at  this  time  selected  as  military  instructor  to  the  late  King  of 
Prussia,  then  Crown  Prince.  In  1812,  Clausewitz,  with  several  other  Prussian 
officers,  having  entered  the  Bussian  service,  his  first  appointment  was  as  Aide- 
de-camp  to  General  Phul.  Afterwards,  while  serving  with  Wittgenstein's  army, 
he  assisted  in  negotiating  the  famous  convention  with  York.  Of  the  part  he 
took  in  that  affair  he  has  left  an  interesting  account  in  his  work  on  the  ''  Bussian 
Campaign."  It  is  there  stated  that,  in  order  to  bring  the  correspondence  which 
had  been  carried  on  with  York  to  a  termination  in  one  way  or  another,  the 
Author  was  despatched  to  York's  head  quarters  with  two  letters,  one  was  from 
General  d*Auvray,  the  Chief  of  the  Staff  of  Wittgenstein's  army,  to  General 
Diebitsch,  showing  the  arrangements  made  to  cut  off  York's  corps  from  Mac- 
donald  (this  was  necessary  in  order  to  give  York  a  plausible  excuse  for  seceding 
from  the  French) ;  the  other  was  an  intercepted  letter  from  Macdonald  to  the 
Duke  of  Bassano.      With  regard  to  the  former  of  these,  the  Author  says,   **it 


would  not  have  had  weight  with  a  man  like  York,  but  for  a  military  justifica- 
tion,  if  the  Prussian  court  should  require  one  as  against  the  French,  it  was 

The  second  letter  was  calculated  at  the  least  to  call  up  in  General  York's  mind 
all  the  feelings  of  bitterness,  which  perhaps  for  some  days  past  had  been  diminished 
by  the  consciousness  of  his  own  behaviour  towards  the  writer. 

As  the  Author  entered  General  York's  chamber,  the  latter  called  out  to  him, 

"Keep  off  from  me;   I  will  have  nothing  more  to  do  with  you;    your  d d 

Cossacks  have  let  a  letter  of  Macdonald's  pass  through  them,  which  brings  me 
an  order  to  march  on  Piktrepohnen,  in  order  there  to  effect  our  junction.  All 
doubt  is  now  at  an  end ;  your  troops  do  not  come  up ;  you  are  too  weak ;  march 
I  must,  and  I  must  excuse  myself  from  all  further  negotiation,  which  may  cost 
me  my  head."  The  Author  said  that  he  would  make  no  opposition  to  all  this, 
but  begged  for  a  candle,  as  he  had  letters  to  show  the  General ;  and,  as  the  latter 
seemed  still  to  hesitate,  the  Author  added,  "  Your  Excellency  will  not  surely  place 
me  in  the  embarrassment  of  departing  without  having  executed  my  commission. 
The  General  ordered  candles,  and  called  in  Colonel  Boeder,  the  chief  of  his  staff, 
from  the  ante-chamber.  The  letters  were  read.  After  a  pause  of  an  instant,  the 
General  said,  **  Clausewitz,  you  are  a  Prussian,  do  you  believe  that  the  letter 
of  General  d'Auvray  is  sincere,  and  that  Wittgenstein's  troops  will  really  be  at 
the  points  he  mentioned  on  the  31st?  "  The  Author  replied,  "  I  pledge  myself  for 
the  sincerity  of  this  letter  upon  the  knowledge  I  have  of  General  d'Auvray 
and  the  other  men  of  Wittgenstein's  head-quarters ;  whether  the  dispositions 
he  announces  can  be  accomplished  as  he  lays  down  I  certainly  cannot  pledge 
myself;  for  your  Excellency  knows  that  in  war  we  must  often  fall  short  of  the  line 
we  have  drawn  for  ourselves."  The  General  was  silent  for  a  few  minutes  of 
earnest  reflection ;  then  held  out  his  hand  to  the  Author,  and  said,  "  You  have  me. 
Tell  General  Diebitsch  that  we  must  confer  early  to-morrow  at  the  mill  of 
Poscherun,  and  that  I  am  now  firmly  determined  to  separate  myself  from  the 
French  and  their  cause."  The  hour  was  fixed  for  8  a.m.  After  this  was  settled, 
the  General  added,  "  But  I  will  not  do  the  thing  by  halves,  I  will  get  you  Mas- 
senbach  also."  He  called  in  an  officer  who  was  of  Massenbach's  cavalry,  and 
who  had  just  left  them.  Much  like  Schiller's  Wallenstein,  he  asked,  walking 
up  and  down  the  room  the  while,  '*What  say  your  regiments?"  The  officer 
broke  put  with  enthusiasm  at  the  idea  of  a  riddance  from  the  French  alliance,  and 
said  that  every  man  of  the  troops  in  question  felt  the  same. 

**  You  young  ones  may  talk  ;  but  my  older  head  is  shaking  on  my  shoulders,' 
replied  the  General.* 

•  "  Campaign  in  Russia  in  1812 ;  '*  translated  from  the  German  of  General  Von  ClausewiU  (by  Lard 


After  the  close  of  the  Bussiaii  campaign  dausewitz  remained  in  the  service 
of  that  country,  but  was  attached  as  a  Bussian  staff  officer  to  Blucher's  head- 
quarters till  the  Armistice  in  1813. 

In  18l4y  he  became  Ohief  of  the  Staff  of  General  Walmoden's  Eusso-Gtorman 
corps,  which  formed  part  of  the  army  of  the  north  under  Bemadotte.  His 
name  is  frequently  mentioned  with  distinction  in  that  campaign,  particularly  in 
connection  with  the  affair  of  Gbehrde. 

Glausewitz  re-entered  the  Prussian  service  in  1815,  and  served  as  Chief  of  the 
staff  to  Thielman's  corps,  which  was  engaged  with  Grouchy  at  Wavre,  on  the  18th  of 

After  the  Peace,  he  was  employed  in  a  command  on  the  Bhine.  In  1818,  he 
became  Major-General,  and  Director  of  the  Military  School  at  which  he  had  been 
previously  educated. 

In  1830,  he  was  appointed  Inspector  of  Artillery  at  Breslau,  but  soon  after 
nominated  Chief  of  the  Staff  to  the  Army  of  Observation,  under  Marshal  Gneisenau 
on  the  Polish  frontier. 

The  latest  notices  of  his  life  and  services  are  probably  to  be  found  in  the 
memoirs  of  General  Brandt,  who,  from  being  on  the  staff  of  Gneisenau*s  army,  was 
brought  into  daily  intercourse  with  Clausewitz  in  matters  of  duty,  and  also 
frequently  met  him  at  the  table  of  Marshal  Gneisenau,  at  Posen. 

Amongst  other  anecdotes,  General  Brandt  relates  that,  upon  one  occasion, 
the  conversation  at  the  Marshal's  table  turned  upon  a  sermon  preached  by  a 
priest,  in  which  some  great  absurdities  were  introduced,  and  a  discussion  arose 
as  to  whether  the  Bishop  should  not  be  made  responsible  for  what  the  priest  had 
said.  This  led  to  the  topic  of  theology  in  general,  when  General  Brandt,  speaking 
of  himself,  says,  **  I  expressed  an  opinion  that  theology  is  only  to  be  regarded 
as  an  historical  process,  as  a  moment  in  the  gradual  development  of  the  human 
race.  This  brought  upon  me  an  attack  from  all  quarters,  but  more  especially 
from  Clausewitz,  who  ought  to  have  been  on  my  side,  he  having  been  an  adherent 
and  pupil  of  Kiesewetter's,  who  had  indoctrinated  him  in  the  philosophy  of  Kant, 
certainly  diluted, — I  might  even  say,  in  homoeopathic  doses."  This  anecdote  is 
only  interesting  as  the  mention  of  Kiesewetter  points  to  a  circumstance  in  the  life  of 
Clausewitz  that  may  have  had  an  influence  in  forming  those  habits  of  thought  which 
distinguish  his  writings. 

''The  way,"  says  General  Brandt,  "in  which  General  Clausewitz  judged  of  tilings, 
drew  conclusions  from  movements  and  marches,  calculated  the  times  of  the  marches, 
and  the  points  where  decisions  would  take  place  was  extremely  interesting.  Fate 
has  unfortunately  denied  him  an  opportunity  of  showing  his  talents  in  high  com- 
mand, but  I  have  a  firm  persuasion  that  as  a  strategist  he  would  have  greatly 
distinguished  himself.     As  a  leader  on  the  field  of  battle,  on  the  other  hand,  he 


would  not  have  been  so  much  in  his  right  place,  from  a  **  manque  ePhahitude  du 
commandement,"  he  wanted  the  art  "  d*enlever  Us  troupes.^' 

After  the  Prussian  Army  of  Observation  was  dissolved,  Clausewitz  returned  to 
Breslauy  and  a  few  days  after  his  arrival  was  seized  with  cholera,  the  seeds  of  which 
he  must  have  brought  with  him  from  the  army  on  the  Polish  frontier.  Bis  death 
took  place  in  November,  1831. 

His  writings  are  contained  in  nine  volumes,  published  after  his  death,  but 
his  fame  rests  most  upon  the  three  volumes  forming  his  treatise  on  "  War."  In 
the  present  attempt  to  render  into  English  this  portion  of  the  works  of  Clausewitz, 
the  translator  is  sensible  of  many  deficiencies,  but  he  hopes  at  all  events  to  succeed 
in  making  this  celebrated  treatise  better  known  in  England,  believing,  as  he  does, 
that  so  far  as  the  work  concerns  the  interests  of  this  country,  it  has  lost  none  of  the 
importance  it  possessed  at  th&  time  of  its  first  publication. 


VOL   I. 

Page  13,  line  4  from  top  of  page,  oolumn  2, /or  subordniate  tam^  subordinate. 
33,    „    11  from  top,  column  2,  for  and  Riflemen  read  or  Rifleman. 



44,  „  at  top  of  "page,  for  Book  I.  r«ai  Book  II. 

45,  ,.  22  from  top,  column  1,  be/ore  adminifltration  read  and. 

65,  „  17  from  top,  column  1, /or  possibilities.    If  rea<^  possibilities ;  if. 

77,  „  7  from  bottom,  column  2,  /or  belief  read  feeling. 

89,  „  3  friom  bottom,  column  1,  befire  circuitous  read  a. 

109,  „  5  from  bottom,  column  2,  a  note  at  foUowe  ehould  have  been  supplied  in  connection  with  thin 

passage : — *'  See  Cbaps.  xiii.  and  xiv..  Book  III.,  and  Chap,  zziz.,  Book  Vl." — Tr. 

133,  „  17  frt^m  bottom,  column  2, /or  engage  him  in  a  sham  fight  read  feign  to  give  battle. 

Page  10,  top  line,  column  2,  omit  him. 
„    12,  line  4  from  top,  column  2, /or  ban  read  spell. 
„    41,    „    18  from  lx)ttom,  column  2,  omit  teeond  and. 
102,    „    9  frx>m  bottom,  column  2, /or  nulesis  read  miles  is. 
191,    „    2  from  top,  column  1,  after  Chapters  insert  Third  Book. 
191,    „    5  frt>m  top,  column  2,  that  is  the  resultant  should  be  within  parentheses. 
191,    „    16  from  top,  column  2, /or  yom  read  vom. 


VOL.  in. 

Page  1,  before  Title,  Book  VII.,  reoif  Sketches  for. 

n  *•>        »i  If  M     Vlll.,  ,«  ,, 

„  68,  line  24  from  top,  column  1,/or  actions  read  factions. 

After  Victory,/or  Vol.  IL  read  Vol.  L,  pages  130,  131,  146, 146,  147,  148, 161,  162. 


VOL.  I. 



0H4F.  AOB 

I.  What  is  War? 1 

II.  End  and  Means  in  War 14 

III.  The  Genius  for  War 23 

IV.  Of  Danger  in  War 36 

V.  Of  Bodily  Exertion  in  War 37 

VI.  Information  in  War 38 

VII.  FrictioninWar 39 

VIII.  Concluding  Remarks,  Book  I. 41 


I.  Branches  of  the  Art  of  War 
II.  On  the  Theory  of  War 
III.  Art  or  Science  of  War 
IV.  Methodicism    . 

V.  Criticism 
VI.  On  Examples  . 





Strategy ,85 

Elements  of  Strategy r  90 

Moral  Forces ^91 

The  Chief  Moral  Powers 4  92 

Military  Virtue  of  an  Army *593 

Boldness 96 

Perseverance 99 

Superiority  of  Numbers ^  100 

The  Surprise 103 

Stratagem 106 

Assembly  of  Forces  in  Space 108 

Assembly  of  Forces  in  Tune 108 

Strategic  Reserve 113 

Economy  of  Forces 115 

Geometncal  Element 115 

On  the  Suspension  of  the  Act  in  Warfare 117 

On  the  Character  of  Modem  War 120 

Tension  and  Rest 121 



I.  Introductory 128 

II.  Character  of  the  Modem  Battle 123 

III.  The  Combat  in  General 125 

IV.  The  Combat  in  Greneral — Continuation 127 

V.  On  the  Signification  of  the  Combat 132 

VI.  Duration  of  the  Combat 134 

VII.  Decision  of  the  Combat 136 

VIII.  Mutual  Understanding  as  to  a  Battle 139 

IX.  General  Action — Its  Decision 141 

X.  Continuation — Effects  of  Victory 146 

XI.  Continuation— Use  of  the  Battle 149 

XII.  Strategic  Means  of  ntilising  Victory 162 

XIII.  Retreat  after  a  Lost  Battle 169 

ON    W  AR- 





I.  Introduction. 

Wb  propose  to  consider  first  the  single 
elements  of  our  subject,  then  each  branch 
or  part,  and,  last  of  all,  the  whole,  in  all 
its  relations — therefore  to  advance  from 
the  simple  to  the  complex.  But  it  is  ne- 
cessary for  us  to  commence  with  a  glance 
at  the  nature  of  the  whole,  because  it  is 
particularly  necessary  that  in  the  con- 
sideration of  any  of  the  parts  the  whole 
should  be  kept  constantly  in  view. 

2.  Definition, 

We  shall  not  enter  into  any  of  the  ab- 
struse definitions  of  war  used  by  public- 
ists. We  shall  keep  to  the  element  of  the 
thing  itself,  to  a  duel.  War  is  nothing 
but  a  duel  on  an  extensive  scale.  If  we 
would  conceive  as  a  unit  the  countless 
number  of  duels  which  make  up  a  war, 
we  shall  do  so  best  by  supposing  to  our- 
selves two  wrestlers.  Each  strives  by 
physical  force  to  compel  the  other  to  sub- 
mit to  his  will:  his  first  object  is  to 
throw  his  adversary,  and  thus  to  render 
him  incapable  of  further  resistance. 

War  ther$fore  is  an  act  of  violence  to  com- 
pel our  opponent  to  fulfil  our  wiU. 

Yiolonce  arms  itself  with  the  inven- 
tions of  Art  and  Science  in  order  to  con- 
tend against  violence.  Self-imposed 
restrictions,  almost  imperceptible  and 
hardly  worth  mentioning,  termed  usages 
of  International  Law,  accompany  it 
without  essentially  impairing  its  power. 
Violence,  that  is  to  say  physical  force 
(for  there  is  no  mored  force  without 
the  conception  of  states  and  law), 
is  therefore  the  means;  the  compulsory 
submission  of  the  enemy  to  our  wiU  is 
the  ultimate  object  In  order  to  attain 
this  object  fully,  the  enemy  must  be  dis* 
armed ;  and  this  is,  correctly  speaking, 
the  real  aim  of  hostilities  in  theory.  It 
takes  the  place  of  the  final  object,  and 
puts  it  aside  in  a  manner  as  something 
not  properly  belonging  to  war. 

3.   Utmost  use  offeree. 

Now,  philanthropists  may  easily  ima- 
gine there  is  a  skilful  method  of  disarm- 
ing and  overcoming  an  enemy  without 
causing  great  bloodshed,  and  that  this  is 
the  proper  tendency  of  the  art  of  War. 
However  plausible  this  may  appear,  still 



[book  I. 

it  is  an  error  which  must  be  extirpated ; 
for  in  such  dangerous  things  as  war,  the 
errors  which  proceed  from  a  spirit  of 
benevolence  are  just  the  worst.  As  the 
use  of  physical  power  to  the  utmost  ex- 
tent by  no  means  excludes  the  co-opera- 
tion of  the  intelligence,  it  follows  that  he 
who  uses  force  unsparingly,  without  re- 
ference to  the  quantity  of  bloodshed, 
must  obtain  a  superiority  if  his  adversary 
does  not  act  likewise.  By  such  means 
the  former  dictates  the  law  to  the  latter, 
and  both  proceed  to  extremities,  to  which 
the  only  lunitations  are  those  imposed  by 
the  amount  of  counteracting  force  on  each 

This  is  the  way  in  which  the  matter 
must  be  viewed ;  and  it  is  to  no  purpose, 
and  even  acting  against  one's  own  in- 
terest, to  turn  away  from  the  considera- 
tion of  the  real  nature  of  the  affair,  be- 
cause the  coarseness  of  its  elements 
excites  repugnance. 

K  the  wars  of  civilised  people  are  less 
cruel  and  destructive  than  those  of 
savages,  the  difference  curises  from  the 
Bocifd  condition  both  of  states  in  them- 
selves and  in  their  relations  to  each 
other.  Out  of  this  social  condition  and 
its  relations  war  arises,  and  by  it  war  is 
subjected  to  conditions,  is  controlled  and 
modified.  But  these  things  do  not  be- 
long to  war  itself ;  they  are  only  given 
conditions ;  and  to  introduce  into  the 
philosophy  of  war  itself  a  principle  of 
moderation  would  be  an  absurdity. 

The  fight  between  men  consists  really 
of  two  different  elements,  the  hostile 
feeling  and  the  hostile  view.  In  our 
definition  of  war,  we  have  chosen  as 
its  characteristic  the  latter  of  these 
elements,  because  it  is  the  most  general. 
It  is  impossible  to  conceive  the  pas- 
sion of  hatred  of  the  wildest  descrip- 
tion, bordering  on  mere  instinct,  with- 
out combining  with  it  the  idea  of  a 
hostile  intention.  On  the  other  hand, 
hostile  intentions  may  often  exist  without 
being  accompanied   by    any,   or  at  all 

events,  by  any  extreme  hostility  of  feel- 
ing. Amongst  savages  views  emanating 
from  the  feelings,  amongst  civilised  na- 
tions those  emanating  ^m  the  under- 
standing, have  the  predominance;  but 
this  difference  is  not  inherent  in  a  state 
of  barbarism,  and  in  a  state  of  culture 
in  themselves  it  arises  from  attendant 
circumstances,  existing  institutions,  etc., 
and  therefore  is  not  to  be  found  neces- 
sarily in  all  cases,  although  it  prevails 
in  the  majority.  In  short,  even  the 
most  civilised  nations  may  bum  with  pas- 
sionate hatred  of  each  other. 

We  may  see  from  this  what  a  fallacy 
it  would  be  to  refer  the  war  of  a  civilised 
nation  entirely  to  an  intelligent  act  on 
the  part  of  the  Government,  and  to  ima- 
gine it  as  continually  freeing  itself  more 
and  more  from  all  feeling  of  passion  in 
such  a  way  that  at  last  the  physical 
masses  of  combatants  would  no  longer 
be  required  ;  in  reality,  their  mere  rela- 
tions would  suffice — a  kind  of  algebraic 

Theory  was  beg^ning  to  drift  in  this 
direction  until  the  facts  of  the  last  war 
taught  it  better.  If  war  is  an  act  of 
force,  it  belongs  necessarily  also  to  the 
feelings.  If  it  does  not  originate  in  the 
feelings,  it  re-acts  more  or  less  upon 
them,  and  this  more  or  less  depends  not 
on  the  degree  of  civilisation,  but  upon 
the  importance  and  duration  of  the  inte- 
rests involved. 

Therefore,  if  we  find  civilised  nations 
do  not  put  their  prisoners  to  death,  do 
not  devastate  towns  and  countries,  this 
is  because  their  intelligence  exercises 
greater  influence  on  their  mode  of  carry- 
ing on  war,  and  has  taught  them  more 
effectual  means  of  applying  force  than 
these  rude  acts  of  mere  instinct.  The 
invention  of  gunpowder,  the  constant 
progress  of  improvements  in  the  con- 
struction of  firearms  are  sufficient  proofs 
that  the  tendency  to  destroy  the  adver- 
sary which  lies  at  the  bottom  of  the 
conception  of  war,  is  in  no  way  changed 

CHAP.    I.] 

WHAT  18  WAR? 


or  modified  through  the  progress  of  civi- 

We  therefore  repeat  our  proposition, 
that  war  is  an  act  of  violence,  which  in 
its  application  knows  no  bounds ;  as  one 
dictates  the  law  to  the  other,  there 
arises  a  sort  of  reciprocal  action,  which  in 
the  conception,  must  lead  to  an  extreme. 
This  is  the  first  reciprocal  action,  and  the 
•first  extreme  with  which  we  meet  {first 
reeiproeal  action). 

4.— TA^  aim  is  to  disarm  the  enemy. 

We  have  already  said  that  the  aim  of 
the  action  in  war  is  to  disarm  the  enemy, 
and  we  shall  now  show  that  this  in  theo- 
retical conception  at  least  is  necessary. 

If  our  opponent  is  to  be  made  to 
comply  with  our  will,  we  must  place  him 
in  a  situation  which  is  more  oppressive 
to  him  than  the  sacrifice  which  we 
demand ;  but  the  disadvantages  of  this 
position  must  naturally  not  be  of  a  tran- 
sitory  nature,  at  least  in  appearance, 
otherwise  the  enemy,  instead  of  yielding, 
will  hold  out,  in  the  prospect  of  a  change 
for  the  better.  Every  change  in  this 
position  which  is  produced  by  a  continu- 
ation of  the  war,  should  therefore  be  a 
change  for  the  worse,  at  least,  in  idea. 
The  worst  position  in  which  a  belligerent 
can  be  placed  is  that  of  being  completely 
disarmed.  If,  therefore,  the  enemy  is  to 
be  reduced  to  submission  by  an  act  of 
war,  he  must  either  be  positively  dis- 
armed or  placed  in  such  a  position  that 
he  is  threatened  with  it  according  to  pro- 
bability. From  this  it  follows  that  the 
disarming  or  overthrow  of  the  enemy, 
whichever  we  call  it,  must  always  be  the 
aim  of  warfare.  Now  war  is  always  the 
shock  of  two  hostile  bodies  in  collision, 
not  the  action  of  a  living  power  upon 
an  inanimate  mass,  because  an  absolute 
state  of  endurance  would  not  be  mak- 
ing war ;  therefore  what  we  have  just 
said  as  to  the  aim  of  action  in  war 
applies  to  both  parties.     Here  then  is 

another  case  of  reciprocal  action.  As 
long  as  the  enemy  is  not  defeated,  I 
have  to  apprehend  that  he  may  defeat 
me,  then  I  shall  be  no  longer  my  own 
master,  but  he  will  dictate  the  law  to 
me  as  I  did  to  him.  This  is  the  second 
reciprocal  action  and  leads  to  a  second 
extreme  {second  reeiproeal  action). 

5. —  Utmost  exertion  of  powers. 

If  we  desire  to  defeat  the  enemy,  we 
must  proportion  our  efforts  to  his  powers 
of  resistance.  This  is  expressed  by  the 
product  of  two  factors  which  cannot  be 
separated,  namely,  the  sum  of  available 
means  and  the  strength  of  the  wiU,  The 
sum  of  the  available  means  may  be 
estimated  in  a  measure,  as  it  depends 
(although  not  entirely)  upon  numbers; 
but  the  strength  of  volition,  is  more 
difficult  to  determine,  and  can  only  be 
estimated  to  a  certain  extent  by  the 
strength  of  the  motives.  Granted  we 
have  obtained  in  this  way  an  approxi- 
mation to  the  strength  of  the  power  to 
be  contended  with,  we  can  then  take  a 
review  of  our  own  means,  and  either 
increase  them  so  as  to  obtain  a  prepon- 
derance, or  in  case  we  have  not  the 
resources  to  effect  this,  then  do  our  best 
by  increasing  our  means  as  far  as  pos- 
sible. But  the  adversary  does  the  same ; 
therefore  there  is  a  new  mutual  en* 
hancement,  which  in  pure  conception, 
must  create  a  fresh  effort  towards  an 
extreme.  This  is  the  third  case  of 
reciprocal  action,  and  a  third  extreme  with 
which  we  meet  {third  reciprocal  action). 

6. — Modification  in  the  reality. 

Thus  reasoning  in  the  abstract,  the 
mind  cannot  stop  short  of  an  extreme, 
because  it  has  to  deal  with  an  extreme, 
with  a  conflict  of  forces  left  to  them- 
selves, and  obeying  no  other  but  their 
own  inner  laws.  If  we  should  seek  to 
deduce  from  the  pure  conception  of  war 


[book  I. 

an  absolute  point  for  the  aim  which  we 
shall  propose  and  for  the  means  which 
we  shall  apply,  this  constant  reciprocal 
action  would  involve  us  in  extremes,  which 
would  be  nothing  but  a  play  of  ideas  pro- 
duced by  an  almost  invisible  train  of  logi- 
cal subtleties.  If  adhering  closely  to  the 
absolute,  we  try  to  avoid  all  difficulties 
by  a  stroke  of  the  pen,  and  insist  with 
logical  strictness  that  in  every  case  the 
extreme  must  be  the  object,  and  the 
utmost  effort  must  be  exerted  in  that 
direction,  such  a  stroke  of  the  pen  would 
be  a  mere  paper  law,  not  by  any  means 
adapted  to  the  real  world. 

Even  supposing  this  extreme  tension 
of  forces  was  an  absolute  which  could 
easily  be  ascertained,  still  we  must  admit 
that  the  human  mind  would  hardly  sub- 
mit itself  to  this  kind  of  logical  chimera. 
There  would  be  in  many  cases  an  unne- 
cessary waste  of  power,  which  would  be 
in  opposition  to  other  principles  of  state- 
craft ;  an  effort  of  will  would  be  required 
dispi-oportioned  to  the  proposed  object, 
and  which  therefore  it  would  be  impossible 
to  realise,  for  the  human  will  does  not 
derive  its  impulse  from  logical  subtleties. 

But  everything  takes  a  different  form 
when  we  pass  from  abstractions  to  reality. 
In  the  former  everything  must  be  sub- 
ject to  optimism,  and  we  must  imagine 
the  one  side  as  well  as  the  other,  striving 
after  perfection  and  even  attaining  it. 
Will  this  ever  take  place  in  reaUty? 
It  will  if 

1,  War  becomes  a  completely  isolated 

act,  which  arises  suddenly  and  is 
in  no  way  connected  with  the 
l)revious  history  of  the  states ; 

2,  If  it  is  limited  to  a  single  solution, 

or  to  several  simultaneous  solu- 
tions ; 

3,  If  it  contains  within  itself  the  solu- 

tion perfect  and  complete,  free 
from  any  reaction  upon  it,  through 
*'  a  calculation  beforehand  of  the 
political  situation  which  will  fol- 
low from  it. 

7. —  War  is  never  an  isolated  act 

With  regard  to  the  first  point,  neither 
of  the  two  opponents  is  an  abstract  person 
to  the  other,  not  even  as  regards  that 
factor  in  the  sum  of  resistance,  which 
does  not  depend  on  objective  things,  viz., 
the  will.  This  will  is  not  an  entirely  un- 
known quantity  ;  it  indicates  what  it  will 
be  to-morrow  by  what  it  is  to-day.  War 
does  not  spring  up  quite  suddenly,  it 
does  not  spread  to  the  full  in  a  moment ; 
each  of  the  two  opponents  can,  therefore, 
form  an  opinion  of  the  other,  in  a  great 
measure,  from  what  he  is  and  what  he 
does ;  instead  of  judging  of  him  accord- 
ing to  what  he,  strictly  speaking,  should 
be  or  should  do.  But,  now,  man  with 
his  incomplete  organisation  is  always  be- 
low the  line  of  absolute  perfection,  and 
thus  these  deficiencies,  having  an  in- 
fluence on  both  sides,  become  a  modi- 
fying principle. 

8. — It  does  not  consist  of  a  single  instan- 
taneous blow. 

The  second  point  gives  rise  to  the  fol- 
lowing considerations : — 

If  war  ended  in  a  single  solution,  or  a 
number  of  simultaneous  ones,  then  natu- 
rally all  the  preparations  for  the  same 
would  have  a  tendency  to  the  extreme, 
for  an  omission  could  not  in  any  way  be 
repaired;  the  utmost,  then,  that  the 
world  of  reality  could  furnish  as  a  guide 
for  us  would  be  the  preparations  of  tho 
enemy,  as  far  as  they  are  known  to  us ; 
all  the  rest  woidd  fall  into  the  domain  of 
the  abstract.  But  if  the  result  is  made 
up  from  several  suocessive  acts,  then 
naturally  that  which  precedes  with  all  its 
phases  may  be  taken  as  a  mei^sure  for 
that  which  wiU  follow,  and  in  tiiis  man- 
ner the  world  of  reality  here  again  takes 
the  place  of  the  abstract,  and  thus  modi- 
fies the  effort  towards  the  extreme. 

Yet  every  war  would  necessarily  re- 
solve itself  into  a  single  solution,  or  a 

CHAP.    I.J 


Bom  of  simultaneous  results,  if  all  the 
means  required  for  the  struggle  were 
raised  at  once,  or  could  be  at  once  raised ; 
for  as  one  adverse  result  necessarily 
diminishes  the  means,  then  if  all  the 
means  have  been  applied  in  the  first,  a 
second  cannot  properly  be  supposed.  All 
hostile  acts  which  might  follow  would 
belong  essentially  to  the  first,  and  form 
in  reality  only  its  duration. 

But  we  have  already  seen  that  even  in 
the  preparation  for  war  the  real  world 
steps  into  the  place  of  mere  abstract 
conception — a  material  standard  into  the 
place  of  the  hypotheses  of  an  extreme  : 
that  therefore  in  that  way  both  parties, 
by  the  influence  of  the  mutual  reaction, 
remain  below  the  line  of  extreme  effort, 
and  therefore  all  forces  are  not  at  once 
brought  forward. 

It  lies  also  in  the  nature  of  these 
forces  and  their  application,  that  they 
cannot  all  be  brought  into  activity  at  the 
same  time.  These  forces  are  the  armies 
actually  on  foot,  the  country ,  with  its 
superficial  extent  and  its  population,  and 
the  allies. 

In  point  of  fact  the  country,  with  its 
superficial  area  and  the  population,  be- 
sides being  the  source  of  all  military 
force,  constitutes  in  itself  an  integral 
part  of  the  efficient  quantities  in  war, 
providing  either  the  theatre  of  war  or 
exercising  a  considerable  influence  on 
the  same. 

Now  it  is  possible  to  bring  all  the  move- 
able military  forces  of  a  country  into 
operation  at  once,  but  not  all  fortresses, 
rivers,  mountains,  people,  etc.,  in  short 
not  the  whole  country,  unless  it  is  so 
small  that  it  may  be  completely  embraced 
by  the  first  act  of  the  war.  Further,  the 
CO*  operation  of  allies  does  not  depend  on 
the  will  of  the  belligerents ;  and  from  the 
nature  of  the  political  relations  of  states 
to  each  other,  this  co- operation  is  fre- 
quently not  afforded  until  after  the  war 
has  commenced,  or  it  may  be  increased 
to  restore  the  balance  of  power. 

That  this  part  of  the  means  of  resist- 
ance, which  cannot  at  once  be  brought 
into  activity,  in  many  cases  is  a  much 
greater  part  of  the  whole  than  might  at 
first  be  supposed,  and  that  it  often  re- 
stores the  balance  of  power,  seriously 
affected  by  the  great  force  of  the  first 
decision,  will  be  more  fiilly  shown  here- 
after. Here  it  is  sufficient  to  show  that 
a  complete  concentration  of  all  available 
means  in  a  moment  of  time,  is  contradic- 
tory to  the  nature  of  war. 

Now  this,  in  itself,  furnishes  no  ground 
for  relaxing  our  efforts  to  accumulate 
strength  to  gain  the  first  result,  because 
an  unfavourable  issue  is  always  a  disad- 
vantage to  which  no  one  would  pur- 
posely expose  himself,  and  also  because 
the  fiirst  decision,  although  not  the  only 
one,  still  will  have  the  more  influence  on 
subsequent  events,  the  greater  it  is  itself. 

But  the  possibility  of  gaining  a  later 
result  causes  men  to  take  refuge  in  that 
expectation  owing  to  the  repugnance,  in 
the  human  mind,  to  making  excessive 
efforts ;  and  therefore  forces  are  not  con- 
centrated and  measures  are  not  taken  for 
the  first  decision  with  that  energy  which 
would  otherwise  be  used.  Whatever  one 
belligerent  omits  from  weakness,  becomes 
to  the  other  a  real  objective  ground  for 
limiting  his  own  efforts,  and  thus  again, 
through  this  reciprocal  action,  extreme 
tendencies  are  brought  down  to  efforts  on 
a  limited  scale. 

9. — The  result  in  war  is  never  abaolute. 

Lastly,  even  the  final  decision  of  a 
whole  war  is  not  always  to  be  regarded 
as  absolute.  The  conquered  state  often 
sees  in  it  only  a  passing  evil,,  which  may 
be  repaired  in  after  times  by  means  of 
political  combinations.  How  much  this 
also  must  modify  the  degree  of  tension 
and  the  vigour  of  the  efforts  made  is  evi- 
dent in  itself. 



[book  I. 

10. — The  prohahilittes  of  real  life  take  the 
place  of  the  coneepiume  of  the  extreme  and 
the  absolute. 

In  this  manner  the  whole  act  of  war  is 
removed  from  under  the  rigorous  law  of 
forces  exerted  to  the  utmost.  If  the  ex- 
treme is  no  longer  to  be  apprehended,  and 
no  longer  to  be  sought  for,  it  is  left  to  the 
judgment  to  determine  the  limits  for  the 
efforts  to  be  made  in  place  of  it ;  and  this 
can  only  be  done  on  the  data  furnished 
by  the  facts  of  the  real  world  by  the  latoa 
ofprohahility.  Once  the  belligerents  are 
no  longer  mere  conceptions  but  indiyidual 
states  and  governments,  once  the  war  is 
no  longer  an  ideal,  but  a  definite  sub- 
stantial procedure,  then  the  reality  will 
furnish  the  data  to  compute  the  unknown 
quantities  which  are  required  to  be 

From  the  character,  the  measures,  the 
situation  of  the  adversary,  and  the  rela- 
tions with  which  he  is  surrounded,  each 
side  will  draw  conclusions  by  the  law  of 
probability  as  to  the  designs  of  the  other, 
and  act  accordingly. 

1 1 . — The  political  object  now  reappears. 

Here,  now,  forces  itself  again  into  con- 
sideration a  question  which  we  had  laid 
aside  (see  No.  2),  that  is,  the  political 
object  of  the  war.  The  law  of  the  extreme, 
the  view  to  disarm  the  adversary,  to  over- 
throw him,  has  hitherto  to  a  certain  ex- 
tent usurped  the  place  of  this  end  or 
object.     Just  as  this  law  loses  its  force, 
the  political  object  must  again  come  for- 
ward.    If  the  whole  consideration  is  a 
calculation  of  probability  based  on  defi- 
nite persons  and  relations,  then  the  poli- 
tical object,  being  the  original  motive, 
must  be  an  essential  factor  in  the  product. 
The  smaller  the  sacrifice  we  demand  from 
our  opponent,  the  smaller  it  may  be  ex- 
pected will  be  the  means  of  resistance 
which  he  will  employ ;  but  the  smaller 
his  are,  the  smaller  will  ours  require  to 
be.     Further,  the   smaller  our  political 

object,  the  less  value  shall  we  set  upon  it, 
and  the  more  easily  shall  we  be  induced 
to  give  it  up  altogether. 

Thus,  therefore,  the  political  object,  as 
the  original  motive  of  the  war,  will  be 
the  standard  for  determining  both  the 
aim  of  the  military  force,  and  also  the 
amount  of  effort  to  be  made.      This  it 
cannot  be  in    itself;    but    it   is   so    in 
relation  to  both  the  belligerent  states, 
because    we    are    concerned    with    rea- 
lities, not  with  mere  abstractions.     One 
and  the  same  political  object  may  pro- 
duce totally  different  effects  upon  dif- 
ferent people,  or  even  upon  the  same 
people  at  different  times ;  we  can,  there- 
fore, only  admit  the  political  object  as 
the  measure,  by  considering  it  in  its  effects 
upon  those  masses  which  it  is  to  move, 
and   consequently  the  nature    of  those 
masses  also  comes  into  consideration.    It 
is  easy  to  see  that  thus  the  result  may  be 
very  different  according  as  these  masses 
are  animated  with  a  spirit  which  will  in- 
fuse vigour  into  tlie  action  or  otherwise. 
It  is  quite  possible  for  such  a  state  of 
feeling  to  exist  between  two  states  that 
a  very  trifling  political  motive  for  war 
may  produce  an  effect  quite  dispropor- 
tionate, in  fact,  a  perfect  explosion. 

This  applies  to  the  efforts  which  the 
political  object  will  call  forth  in  the  two 
states,  and  to  the  aim  which  the  military 
action  shall  prescribe  for  itself.  At  times 
it  may  itself  be  that  aim,  as  for  example 
the  conquest  of  a  province.  At  other 
times,  the  political  object  itself  is  not 
suitable  for  the  aim  of  military  action ; 
then  such  a  one  must  be  chosen  as  will 
be  an  equivalent  for  it,  and  stand  in  its 
place  as  regards  the  conclusion  of  peace. 
But,  also,  in  this,  due  attention  to  the 
peculiar  character  of  the  states  concerned 
is  always  supposed.  There  are  circum- 
stances in  which  the  equivalent  must  be 
'  much  greater  than  the  political  object  in 
order  to  secure  the  latter.  The  political 
object  will  be  so  much  the  more  the 
standard  of  aim  and  effort,  and  have  more 

CHAP.   I.] 


influence  in  itself,  the  more  the  masses 
are  indifferent,  the  less  that  any  mutual 
feeling  of  hostility  prevails  in  the  two 
states  from  other  causes,  and,  therefore, 
there  are  cases  where  the  political  object 
almost  alone  will  be  decisive. 

If  the  aim  of  the  military  action  is  an 
equivalent  for  the  political  object,  that 
action  will  in  general  diminish  as  the 
political  object  diminishes,  and  that  in  a 
greater  degree  the  more  the  political 
object  dominates;  and  so  is  explained 
how,  without  any  contradiction  in  itself, 
there  may  be  wars  of  all  degrees  of  im- 
portance  and  energy,  from  a  war  of  ex- 
termination, down  to  the  mere  use  of  an 
army  of  observation.  This,  however,  leads 
to  a  question  of  another  kind  which  we 
have  hereafter  to  develop  and  answer. 

12. — A   Hupension  in  the   action  of  war 
unexplained  hy  anything  said  as  yet. 

However  insignificant  the  political 
claims  mutually  advanced,  however  weak 
the  means  put  forth,  however  small  the 
aun  to  which  military  action  is  directed, 
can  this  action  be  suspended  even  for  a 
moment  ?  This  is  a  question  which  pene- 
trates deeply  into  the  nature  of  the  sub- 

Every  transaction  requires  for  its  ac- 
complishment a  certain  time  which  we 
call  its  duration.  This  may  be  longer  or 
shorter,  according  as  the  person  acting 
throws  more  or  less  despatch  into  his 

About  this  more  or  less  we  shall  not 
trouble  ourselves  here.  £ach  person  acts 
in  his  own  fashion ;  but  the  slow  person 
does  not  protract  the  thing  because  he 
wishes  to  spend  more  time  about  it,  but 
because,  by  his  nature,  he  requires  more 
time,  and  if  he  made  more  haste,  would 
not  do  the  thing  so  well.  This  time, 
therefore,  depends  on  subjective  causes, 
and  belongs  to  the  length,  so-called,  of  the 

If  we  allow  now  to  every  action  in  war 

this,  its  length,  then  we  must  assume,  at 
first  sight  at  least,  that  any  expenditure 
of  time  beyond  this  length,  that  is,  every 
suspension  of  hostile  action  appears  an 
absurdity ;  with  respect  to  this  it  must 
not  be  forgotten  that  we  now  speak  not 
of  the  progress  of  one  or  other  of  the  two 
opponents,  but  of  the  general  progress  of 
the  whole  action  of  the  war. 

1 3. — There  is  only  one  cause  which  can  suS' 
pend  the  action,  and  this  seems  to  be  only 
possible  on  one  side  in  any  ease. 

If  two  parties  have  armed  themselves 
for  strife,  then  a  feeling  of  animosity 
must  have  moved  them  to  it ;  as  long  now 
as  they  continue  armed,  that  is  do  not 
come  to  terms  of  peace,  this  feeling  must 
exist ;  and  it  can  only  be  brought  to  a 
standstill  by  either  side  by  one  single 
motive  alone,  which  is,  that  he  waits  for  a 
more  favourable  moment  for  action.  Now  at 
first  sight  it  appears  that  this  motive  can 
never  exist  except  on  one  side,  because  it, 
eo  ipso,  must  be  prejudicial  to  the  other. 
If  tiie  one  has  an  interest  in  acting,  then 
the  other  must  have  an  interest  in  wait- 

A  complete  equilibrium  of  forces  can 

never  produce  a  suspension  of  action,  for 
during  this  suspension  he  who  has  the 
positive  object  (  is  the  assailant)  must 
continue  progressing;  for  if  we  should 
imagine  an  equilibrium  in  this  way,  that 
he  who  has  the  positive  object,  therefore 
the  strongest  motive,  can  at  the  same  time 
only  command  the  lesser  means,  so  that 
the  equation  is  made  up  by  the  product  of 
the  motive  and  the  power,  then  we  must 
say,  if  no  alteration  in  this  condition 
of  equilibrium  is  to  be  expected,  the 
two  parties  must  make  peace ;  but  if  an 
alteration  is  to  be  expected,  tJien  it  can 
only  be  favourable  to  one  side,  and  there- 
fore the  other  has  a  manifest  interest  to 
act  without  delay.  We  see  that  the  con- 
ception of  an  equilibrium  cannot  explain 
a  suspension  of  arms,  but  that  it  ends  in 


[book  I. 

the  question  of  the  ezpeetatian  of  a  more 
favourable  moment. 

Let  lis  suppose,  therefore,  that  one  of 
two  states  has  a  positive  object,  as,  for 
instance,  the  conquest  of  one  of  the  ene- 
my's provinces — which  is  to  be  utilised 
in  the  settlement  of  peace.  After  this 
conquest  his  political  object  is  accom- 
plished, the  necessity  for  action  ceases, 
and  for  him  a  pause  ensues.  If  tlie 
adversary  is  also  contented  with  this  solu- 
tion he  will  make  peace,  if  not  he  must 
act.  Now,  if  we  suppose  that  in  four 
weeks  he  will  be  in  a  better  condition  to 
act,  then  he  has  su£B.cient  grounds  for 
putting  off  the  time  of  action. 

But  ^m  that  moment  the  logical 
course  for  the  enemy  appears  to  be  to  act 
that  he  may  not  give  the  conquered  party 
the  desired  time.  Of  course,  in  this  mode 
of  reasoning  a  complete  insight  into  the 
state  of  circumstances  on  both  sides,  is 

14. — Thus  a  continuance  of  aetion  toill  ensue 
which  will  advance  towards  a  climax. 

If  this  unbroken  continuity  of  hostile 
operations  really  existed,  the  effect  would 
be  that  everything  would  again  be  driven 
towards  the  extreme ;  for  irrespective  of 
the  effect  of  such  incessant  activity  in 
inflaming  the  feelings  and  infusing  into 
the  whole  a  greater  degree  of  passion,  a 
greater  elementary  force,  there  would  also 
follow  from  this  continuance  of  action,  a 
stricter  continuity,  a  closer  connection 
between  cause  and  effect,  and  thus  every 
single  action  would  become  of  more  im- 
portance, and  consequently  more  replete 
with  danger. 

But  we  know  that  the  course  of  action 
in  war  has  seldom  or  never  this  unbroken 
continuity,  and  that  there  have  been 
many  wars  in  which  action  occupied  by 
far  the  smallest  portion  of  time  employed, 
the  whole  of  the  rest  being  consumed  in 
inaction.  It  is  impossible  that  this  should 
be  always  an  anomaly,  and  suspension  of 

action  in  war  must  be  possible,  that  is  no 
contradiction  in  itself.  We  now  proceed 
to  show  this,  and  how  it  is. 

15. — Here,  therefore,  the  principle  of  pola* 
rity  is  brought  into  requisition. 

As  we  have  supposed  the  interests  of 
one  commander  to  be  always  antagonistio 
to  those  of  the  other,  we  have  assumed  a 
true  polarity.  We  reserve  a  fuller  expla- 
nation of  this  for  another  chapter,  merely 
making  the  following  observation  on  it 
at  present. 

The  principle  of  polarity  is  only  valid 
when  it  can  be  conceived  in  one  and  the 
same  thing,  where  the  positive  and  its 
opposite  the  negative,  completely  destroy 
each  other.  In  a  battle  both  sides  strive 
to  conquer ;  that  is  true  polarity,  for  the 
victory  of  the  one  side  destroys  that  of 
the  other.  But  when  we  speak  of  two 
different  things,  which  have  a  common 
relation  external  to  themselves,  then  it  is 
not  the  things  but  their  relations  which 
have  the  polarity. 

16. — Attack  and  defence  are  things  differing 
in  kind  and  of  unequal  force.  Polarity  is, 
therefore,  not  applicable  to  them. 

If  there  was  only  one  form  of  war,  to 
wit  the  attack  of  the  enemy,  therefore  no 
defence ;  or  in  other  words,  if  the  attack 
was  distinguished  from  the  defence 
merely  by  &e  positive  motive,  which  the 
one  has  and  the  other  has  not,  but  the 
fight  precisely  one  and  the  same :  then 
in  this  sort  of  fight  every  advantage 
gained  on  the  one  side  would  be  a  cor- 
responding disadvantage  on  the  other, 
and  true  polarity  would  exist. 

But  action  in  war  is  divided  into  two 
forms,  attack  and  defence,  which,  as  we 
shall  hereafter  explain  more  particularly, 
are  very  different  and  of  unequal  strength. 
Polarity,  therefore,  lies  in  tiiat  to  which 
both  bear  a  relation,  in  the  decision,  but 
not  in  the  attaok  or  defence  itself. 

CHAP.   I.] 

WHAT  18  WAR? 

If  the  one  oommander  wishes  the  solu- 
tion put  off,  the  other  must  wish  to 
hasten  it ;  but  certainly  only  in  the  same 
form  of  combat.  K  it  is  A's  interest  not 
to  attack  his  enemy  at  present  but  four 
weeks  hence,  then  it  is  B's  interest  to  be 
attacked,  not  four  weeks  hence,  but  at 
the  present  moment.  This  is  the  direct 
antaigonism  of  interests,  but  it  by  no 
means  foUows  that  it  would  be  for  B's 
interest  to  attack  A  at  once.  That  is 
plainly  something  totally  difiFerent. 

17. — The  effect  of  Polarity  is  often  destroyed 
hy  the  superiority  of  the  Defence  over 
the  Attack f  and  thus  the  suspension  of 
action  in  war  is  explained. 

If  the  form  of  defence  is  stronger  than 
that  of  offence,  as  we  shall  hereafter 
show,  the  question  arises,  Is  the  advan- 
tage of  a  deferred  decision  as  g^eat  on 
the  one  side  as  the  advantage  of  the 
defensive  form  on  the  other?  If  it  is 
not,  then  it  cannot  by  its  counter-weight 
overbalance  the  latter,  and  thus 
influence  the  progress  of  the  action 
of  the  war.  We  see,  therefore,  that  the 
impulsive  force  existing  in  the  polarity 
of  interests  may  be  lost  in  the  difference 
between  the  strength  of  the  offensive  and 
defensive,  and  thereby  become  ineffec- 

If,  therefore,  that  side  for  which  the 
present  is  favourable  is  too  weak  to  be 
able  to  dispense  with  the  advantage  of 
the  defensive,^  he  must  put  up  with  the 
unfavourable  prospects  which  the  future 
holds  out ;  for  it  may  still  be  better  to 
fight  a  defensive  battle  in  the  unpromis- 
ing future  than  to  assume  the  offensive 
or  make  peace  at  present.  Now,  being 
convinced  that  the  superiority  of  the 
defensive  (rightly  understood)  is  very 
great,  and  much  greater  than  may  ap- 
pear at  first  sight,  we  conceive  that  the 
greater  nimiber  of  those  periods  of  in- 
action which  occur  in  war  are  thus 
explained  without  involving  any  contra- 

diction. The  weaker  the  motives  to 
action  are,  the  more  will  those  motives 
be  absorbed  and  neutralised  by  this  dif- 
ference between  attack  and  defence,  the 
more  frequently,  therefore,  will  action  in 
warfare  be  stopped,  as  indeed  experience 

18. — A  second  ground  consists  in  the  imper- 
feet  knowledge  of  eireumstances. 

But  there  is  still  another  cause  which 
may  stop  action  in  war,  that  is  an  incom- 
plete view  of  the  situation.  Each  com- 
mander can  only  fully  know  his  own 
position ;  that  of  his  opponent  can  only 
be  known  to  him  by  reports,  which  are 
uncertain;  he  may,  therefore,  form  a 
wrong  judgment  with  respect  to  it  upon 
data  of  this  description,  and,  in  conse- 
quence of  that  error,  he  may  suppose  that 
the  initiative  is  properly  with  his  adver- 
sary when  it  is  really  with  himself.  This 
want  of  perfect  insight  might  certainly 
just  as  often  occasion  an  untimely  action 
as  untimely  inaction,  and  so  it  would  in 
itself  no  more  contribute  to  delay  than 
to  accelerate  action  in  war.  Still,  it  must 
always  be  regarded  as  one  of  the  natural 
causes  which  may  bring  action  in  war  to  a 
standstill  without  involving  a  contradic- 
tion. But  if  we  reflect  how  much  more  we 
are  inclined  and  induced  to  estimate  the 
power  of  our  opponents  too  high  than 
too  low,  because  it  lies  in  human  nature 
to  do  so,  we  shall  admit  that  our  imper- 
fect insight  into  facts  in  general  must 
contribute  very  much  to  stop  action  in 
war,  and  to  modify  the  principle  of 

The  possibility  of  a  standstill  brings 
into  the  action  of  war  a  new  modification, 
inasmuch  as  it  dilutes  that  custion  with 
the  element  of  Time,  checks  the  influ- 
ence or  sense  of  danger  in  its  course,  and 
increases  the  means  of  reinstating  a  lost 
balance  of  force.  The  greater  the  ten- 
sion of  feelings  from  which  the  war 
springs,  the  greater,  therefore,  the  energy 



[book  r. 

with  which  it  is  carried  on,  so  much  the 
shorter  will  be  the  periods  of  inaction ;  on 
the  other  hand,  the  weaker  the  principle  of 
warlike  activity,  the  longer  will  be  these 
periods :  for  powerful  motives  increase 
the  force  of  the  will,  and  this,  as  we 
know,  is  always  a  factor  in  the  product 
of  force. 

19. — Frequent  periods  of  inaction  in  war  re- 
move it  further  from  the  absolute,  and  make 
it  still  more  a  calculation  of  probabilities. 

But  the  slower  the  action  proceeds  in 
war,  the  more  frequent  and  longer  the 
periods  of  inaction,  so  much  the  more 
easily  can  an  error  be  repaired ;  there- 
fore so  much  the  bolder  a  general  will  be 
in  his  calculations,  so  much  the  more 
readily  will  he  keep  them  below  the  line 
of  absolute,  and  build  everything  upon 
probabilities  and  conjecture.  Thus,  ac- 
cording as  the  course  of  the  war  is 
more  or  less  slow,  more  or  less  time  will 
be  allowed  for  that  which  the  nature  of 
a  concrete  case  particularly  requires,  cal- 
culation of  probability  based  on  given 

20. — It  therefore  now  only  wants  the  ele- 
meni  of  chance  to  make  of  it  a  game,  and 
in  that  element  it  is  least  of  all  deficient. 

We  see  from  the  foregoing  how  much 
the  objective  nature  of  war  makes  it  a 
calculation  of  probabilities ;  now  there 
is  only  one  single  element  still  wanting 
to  make  it  a  game,  and  that  element  it 
certainly  is  not  without :  it  is  chance. 
There  is  no  human  affair  which  stands 
BO  constantly  and  so  generally  in  close 
connection  with  chance  as  war.  But 
along  with  chance,  the  accidental,  and 
along  with  it  good  luck,  occupy  a  g^eat 
place  in  war. 

21. — As  war  is  a  game  through  its  objective 
nature,  so  also  is  it  through  its  subjective. 

If  we  now  take  a  look  at  iAie^  subjective 

nature  of  war,  that  is  at  those  powers 
with  which  it  is  carried  on,  it  will  appear 
to  us  still  more  like  a  game.  The  ele- 
ment in  which  the  operations  of  war  are 
carried  on  is  danger ;  but  which  of  all 
the  moral  qualities  is  the  first  in  danger  ? 
Courage.  Now  certainly  courage  is  quite 
compatible  with  prudent  calculation,  but 
still  they  are  things  of  quite  a  different 
kind,  essentially  different  qualities  of  the 
mind ;  on  the  other  hand,  daring  reliance 
on  good  fortune,  boldness,  ras£jiess,  are 
only  expressions  of  courage,  and  all 
these  propensities  of  the  mind  look  for 
the  fortuitous  (or  accidental),  because  it 
is  their  element. 

We  see  therefore  how  from  the  com- 
mencement, the  absolute,  the  mathema- 
tical as  it  is  called,  no  where  finds  any 
sure  basis  in  the  calculations  in  the  art 
of  war ;  and  that  from  the  outset  there  is 
a  play  of  possibilities,  probabilities,  good 
and  bad  luck,  which  spreads  about  with 
all  the  coarse  and  fine  threads  of  its 
web,  and  makes  war  of  all  branches  of 
human  activity  the  most  like  a  game  of 

22. — How  this  accords  best  with  the  human 
mind  in  general. 

Although  our  intellect  always  feels 
itself  urged  towards  clearness  and  cer- 
tainty, still  our  mind  often  feels  itself 
attracted  by  uncertainty.  Instead  of 
threading  its  way  with  the  understanding 
along  the  narrow  path  of  philosophical 
investigations  and  logical  conclusions,  in 
order  almost  unconscious  of  itself,  to 
arrive  in  spaces  where  it  feels  itself  a 
stranger,  and  where  it  seems  to  part 
from  all  well  known  objects,  it  prefers  to 
remain  with  the  imagination  in  the 
realms  of  chance  and  luck.  Instead  of 
living  yonder  on  poor  necessity,  it  revels 
here  in  the  wealth  of  possibilities ;  ani- 
mated thereby,  courage  then  takes  wings 
to  Itself,  and  daring  and  danger  make 
the    element     into   which    it    launches 

OHAP.    I.] 



itself,  as  a  fearless  swimmer  plunges  into 
the  Btrefiun. 

Shall  theory  leave  it  here,  and  move 
on,  self  satisfied  with  absolute  conclusions 
and  rules?  Then  it  is  of  no  practical 
use.  Theory  must  also  take  into  account 
the  human  element;  it  must  accord  a 
place  to  courage,  to  boldness,  even  to 
rashness.  The  art  of  war  has  to  deal 
with  liying  and  with  moral  forces ;  the 
Gonsequende  of  which  is  that  it  can 
never  attain  the  absolute  and  positive. 
There  is  therefore  everywhere  a  mar- 
gin for  the  accidental;  and  just  as 
much  in  the  greatest  things  as  in  the 
smallest.  As  there  is  room  for  this  acci- 
dental on  the  one  hand,  so  on  the  other 
there  must  be  courage  and  self-reliance 
in  proportion  to  the  room  left.  If  these 
qualities  are  forthcoming  in  a  high 
degree,  the  margin  left  may  like- 
wise be  great.  Courage  and  self  re- 
liance are  therefore  principles  quite 
essential  to  war ;  consequently  theory 
must  only  set  up  such  rules  as  allow 
ample  scope  for  ail  degrees  and  varieties 
of  tliese  necessary  and  noblest  of  military 
virtues.  In  daring  there  may  still  be 
wisdom  also,  and  prudence  as  weU,  only 
that  they  are  estimated  by  a  different 
standard  of  value. 

23. —  War  is  always  a  serious  means  for  a 
serious  object.  Its  more  particular  deji' 

Such  is  war;  such  the  commander 
who  conducts  it ;  such  the  theory  which 
rules  it.  But  war  is  no  pastime ;  no  mere 
passion  for  venturing  and  winning ;  no 
work  of  a  free  enthusiasm ;  it  is  a  serious 
means  for  a  serious  object.  All  that 
appearance  which  it  wears  from  the 
varying  hues  of  fortune,  all  that  it 
assimilates  into  itself  of  the  oscillations 
of  passion,  of  courage,  of  imagination, 
of  enthusiasm,  are  only  particular  pro- 
perties of  this  means. 

The  war  of  a  community— of  whole 
nations    and    particularly    of    civilised 

nations — always  starts  from  a  political 
condition,  and  is  called  forth  by  a  politi- 
cal motive.  It  is  therefore  a  political  act 
Now  if  it  was  a  perfect,  unrestrained  and 
absolute  expression  offeree,  as  we  had  to 
deduce  it  from  its  mere  conception,  then 
the  moment  it  is  called  forth  by  policy  it 
would  step  into  the  place  of  policy,  and  as 
something  quite  independent  of  it  would 
set  it  aside,  and  only  follow  its  own  laws, 
just  as  a  mine  at  the  moment  of  explosion 
cannot  be  gpiided  into  any  other  direction 
than  that  which  has  been  given  to  it  by 
preparatory  arrangements.  This  is  how 
the  thing  has  really  been  viewed  hitherto, 
whenever  a  want  of  harmony  between 
policy  and  the  conduct  of  a  war  has  led 
to  theoretical  distinctions  of  the  kind. 
But  it  is  not  so,  and  the  idea  is  radically 
false.  War  in  the  real  world,  as  we  have 
already  seen,  is  not  an  extreme  thing  which 
expends  itself  at  one  single  discharge;  it 
is  the  operation  of  powers  which  do  not 
develop  themselves  completely  in  the 
same  manner  and  in  the  same  measure, 
but  which  at  one  time  expand  sufficiently 
to  overcome  the  resistance  opposed  by 
inertia  or  friction,  while  at  another  they 
are  too  weak  to  produce  an  effect ;  it  is 
therefore,  in  a  certain  measure,  a  pulsation 
of  violent  force  more  or  less  vehement, 
consequently  making  its  discharges  and 
exhausting  its  powers  more  or  less 
quickly,  in  other  words  conducting  more 
or  less  quickly  to  the  aim,  but  always 
lasting  long  enough  to  admit  of  influence 
being  exerted  on  it  in  its  course,  so  as  to 
give  it  this  or  that  direction,  in  short  to 
be  subject;  to  the  will  of  a  guiding  intel- 
ligence. Now  if  we  reflect  that  war  has 
its  root  in  a  political  object,  then 
naturally  this  original  motive  which 
called  it  into  existence  should  also  con- 
tinue the  first  and  highest  consideration 
in  the  conduct  of  it.  Still  the  political 
object  is  no  despotic  lawgiver  on  that 
account ;  it  must  accommodate  itself  to 
the  nature  of  the  means,  and  through 
that  is  often  completely  changed,  but  it 



[book  I. 

always  remains  that  which  has  a  prior 
right  to  consideration.  Policy  therefore 
is  interwoven  with  the  whole  action  of 
war,  and  must  exercise  a  continuous  in- 
fluence upon  it  as  far  as  the  nature  of 
the  forces  exploding  in  it  will  permit. 

24. — War  is  a  mere  continuation  ofpoUey  hy 

other  means. 

We  see,  therefore,  that  war  is  not  merely 
a  political  act,  but  also  a  real  political  in- 
strument, a  continuation  of  political  com- 
merce, a  carrjdng  out  of  the  same  by 
other  means.  All  beyond  this  which  is 
strictly  peculiar  to  war  relates  merely  to 
the  peculiar  nature  of  the  means  which 
it  uses.  That  the  tendencies  and  views 
of  policy  shall  not  be  incompatible  with 
these  means,  the  art  of  war  in  general 
and  the  commander  in  each  particular 
case  may  demand,  and  this  daim  is  truly 
not  a  trifling  one.  But  however  power- 
fully this  may  react  on  political  views  in 
particular  cases,  still  it  must  always  be 
regarded  as  only  a  modification  of  them ; 
for  the  political  view  is  the  object,  war  is 
the  means,  and  the  means  must  always 
include  the  object  in  our  conception. 

25. — Diversity  in  the  nature  of  wars. 

The  greater  and  more  powerful  the 
motives  of  a  war,  the  more  it  affects  the 
whole  existence  of  a  people,  the  more 
violent  the  excitement  which  precedes 
the  war,  by  so  much  the  nearer  wHl  the 
war  approach  to  its  abstract  form,  so 
much  the  more  will  it  be  directed  to  the 
destruction  of  the  enemy,  so  much  the 
nearer  will  the  military  and  political  ends 
coincide,  so  much  the  more  purely  mili- 
tary and  less  political  the  war  appears  to 
be ;  but  the  weaker  the  motives  and  the 
tensions,  so  much  the  less  will  the  natural 
direction  of  the  military  element — that  is, 
force— be  coincident  with  the  direction 
which  the  political  element  indicates ;  so 
much  the  more  must  therefore  the  war 

become  diverted  from  its  natural  direc- 
tion, the  political  object  diverge  from 
the  aim  of  an  ideal  war,  and  the  war 
appear  to  become  political. 

But  that  the  reader  may  not  form  any 
false  conceptions,  we  must  here  observe 
that,  by  this  natural  tendency  of  war,  we 
only  mean  the  philosophical,  the  strictly 
logical,  and  by  no  means  the  tendency  of 
forces  actually  engaged  in  conflict,  by 
which  would  be  supposed  to  be  included 
all  the  emotions  and  passions  of  the  com- 
batants. No  doubt  in  some  cases  these 
also  might  be  excited  to  such  a  degree 
as  to  be  with  difficulty  restrained  and 
conflned  to  the  political  road ;  but  in  most 
oases  such  a  contradiction  will  not  arise, 
because,  by  the  existence  of  such  strenu- 
ous exertions  a  great  plan  in  harmony 
therewith  would  be  implied.  If  the 
plan  is  directed  only  upon  a  small  object, 
then  the  impulses  of  feeling  amongst  tho 
masses  will  be  also  so  weak,  that  these 
masses  will  require  to  be  stimulated 
rather  than  repressed. 

26. — They  may  all  he  regarded  as  political 


Betuming  now  to  the  main  subject, 
although  it  is  true  that  in  one  kind  of 
war  the  political  element  seems  almost  to 
disappear,  whilst  in  another  kind  it  occu- 
pies a  very  prominent  place,  we  may  still 
affirm  that  the  one  is  as  political  as  the 
other ;  for  if  we  regard  the  state  policy 
as  the  intelligence  of  the  personifled  state, . 
then  amongst  all  the  constellations  in  the 
political  sky  which  it  has  to  compute, 
those  must  be  included  which  arise  when 
the  nature  of  its  relations  imposes  the  ne- 
cessity of  a  great  war.  It  is  only  if  we 
understand  by  policy  not  a  true  apprecia- 
tion of  affairs  in  general,  but  the  conven- 
tional conception  of  a  cautious,  subtle, 
also  dishonest  craftiness,  averse  from  vio- 
lence, that  tho  latter  kind  of  war  may 
belong  more  to  policy  than  the  flrst. 

CHAP.    I.] 



27. — Influence  of  thie  view  on  the  right 
understanding  of  military  history^  and  on 
the  foundations  of  theory. 

We  see,  therefore,  in  the  first  place, 
that  under  all  circumstances  war  is  to  be 
regarded  not  as  an  independent  thing, 
but  as  a  political  instrument ;  and  it  is 
only  by  taking  this  point  of  view  that  we 
can  avoid  finding  ourselves  in  opposition 
to  all  military  history.  This  is  die  only 
means  of  unlocking  the  great  book  and 
making  it  intelligible.  Secondly,  just 
this  view  shows  us  how  wars  must  differ 
in  character  according  to  the  nature  of 
the  motives  and  circumstances  from  which 
they  proceed. 

Now,  the  first,  the  grandest,  and  most 
decisive  act  of  judgment  which  the  states- 
man and  general  exercises  is  rightly  to 
understand  in  this  respect  the  war  in 
which  he  engages,  not  to  take  it  for 
something,  or  to  wish  to  make  of  it 
something  which,  by  the  nature  of  its 
relations,  it  is  impossible  for  it  to  be. 
This  is,  therefore,  the  first,  the  most 
comprehensive  of  all  strategical  questions. 
We  shall  enter  into  this  more  fully  in 
treating  of  the  plan  of  a  war. 

For  the  present  we  content  ourselves 
with  having  brought  the  subject  up  to 
this  point,  and  having  thereby  fixed  the 
chief  point  of  view  fi:om  which  war  and 
its  theory  are  to  be  studied. 

28. — Reeultfor  theory. 

War  is,  therefore,  not  only  a  true 
chameleon,  because  it  changes  its  nature 
in  some  degree  in  each  particular  case, 
but  it  is  also,  as  a  whole,  in  relation  to 
the  predominant  tendencies  which  are  in 
it,  a  wonderful  trinity,  composed  of  the 
original  violence  of  its  elements,  hatred 

and  animosity,  which  may  be  looked 
upon  as  blind  instinct;  of  the  play  of 
probabilities  and  chance,  which  make  it 
a  free  activity  of  the  soul ;  and  of  the 
subordniate  nature  of  a  political  instru- 
ment, by  which  it  belongs  purely  to  the 

The  first  of  these  three  phases  con- 
cerns more  the  people ;  the  second  more 
the  general  and  his  army ;  the  third  more 
the  Government  The  passions  which 
break  forth  in  war  must  already  have 
a  latent  existence  in  the  peoples.  The 
range  which  the  display  of  coiirage  and 
talents  shall  get  in  the  realm  of  proba- 
bilities and  of  chance  depends  on  the  par- 
ticular characteristics  of  the  general  and 
his  army ;  but  the  political  objects  belong 
to  the  Government  alone. 

These  three  tendencies,  which  appear 
like  so  many  different  lawgivers,  are 
deeply  rooted  in  the  nature  of  the  subject, 
and  at  the  same  time  variabje  in  deg^*ee. 
A  theory  which  would  leave  any  one  of 
them  out  of  account,  or  set  up  any  arbi- 
trary relation  between  them,  wordd  im- 
me^ately  become  involved  in  such  a 
contradiction  with  the  reality,  that  it 
might  be  regarded  as  destroyed  at  once 
by  that  alone. 

The  problem  is,  therefore,  that  theory 
shall  keep  itself  poised  in  a  manner  be- 
tween these  three  tendencies,  as  between 
three  points  of  attraction. 

The  way  in  which  alone  this  difficult 
problem  can  be  solved  we  shall  examine 
in  the  book  on  the  "  Theory  of  War." 
In  every  case  the  conception  of  war,  as 
here  defined,  will  be  the  first  ray  of  light 
which  shows  us  the  true  foundation  of 
theory,  and  which  first  separates  the 
great  masses,  and  allows  us  to  distinguish 
tiiem  from  one  another. 



[book  I. 



Havino  in  the  foregoing  chapter  ascer- 
tained the  complicated  and  yariable 
nature  of  war,  we  shall  now  occupy  our- 
selves in  examining  into  the  influence 
which  this  nature  has  upon  the  end  and 
means  in  war. 

If  we  ask  first  of  all  for  the  aim  upon 
which  the  whole  war  is  to  be  directed,  in 
order  that  it  may  be  the  right  means  for 
the  attainment  of  the  political  object,  we 
shall  find  that  it  is  just  as  yariable  as 
are  the  political  object  and  the  particular 
circumstances  of  the  war. 

If,  in  the  next  place,  we  keep  once  more 
to  the  pure  conception  of  war,  then  we 
must  say  that  its  political  object  properly 
lies  out  of  its  province,  for  if  war  is  an 
act  of  violence  to  compel  the  enemy  to 
fulfil  our  will,  then  in  every  case  all  de- 
pends on  our  overthrowing  the  enemy, 
that  is,  disarming  him,  and  on  that  alone. 
This  object,  developed  from  abstract  con- 
ceptions, but  which  is  also  the  one  aimed 
at  in  a  g^at  many  cases  in  reality,  we 
shall,  in  the  first  place,  examine  in  this 


In  connection  with  the  plan  of  a  cam- 
paign we  shall  hereafter  examine  more 
closely  into  the  meaning  of  disarming  a 
nation,  but  here  we  must  at  once  draw  a 
distinction  between  three  things,  which 
as  three  general  objects  comprise  every- 
thing else  within  them.  They  are  the 
military  power ^  the  eountry,  and  the  will  of 
the  enemy. 

The  military  power  must  be  destroyed, 
that  is,  reduced  to  such  a  state  as  not  to 
be  able  to  prosecute  the  war.  This  is 
the  sense  in  which  we  wish  to  be  under- 
stood hereafter,  whenever  we   use  the 

expression  ''  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
military  power." 

The  country  must  be  conquered,  for  out 
of  the  coimtry  a  new  military  force  may 
be  formed. 

But  if  even  both  these  things  are  done, 
still  the  war,  that  is,  the  hostile  feeling 
and  action  of  hostile  agencies,  cannot  be 
considered  as  at  an  end  as  long  as  the 
will  of  the  enemy  is  not  subdued  also ; 
that  is,  its  Government  and  its  allies 
forced  into  signing  a  peace,  or  the  people 
into  submission ;  for  whilst  we  are  in  full 
occupation  of  the  country  the  war  may 
break  out  afresh,  either  in  the  interior  or 
through  assistance  given  by  allies.  No 
doubt  this  may  also  take  place  after  a 
peace,  but  that  shows  nothing  more  than 
that  every  war  does  not  carry  in  itself 
the  elements  for  a  complete  decision  and 
final  settlement. 

But  even  if  this  is  the  case,  still  with 
the  conclusion  of  peace  a  number  of 
sparks  are  always  extingpiished,  which 
would  have  smouldered  on  quietly,  and 
the  excitement  of  the  passions  abates, 
because  all  those  whose  minds  are  dis- 
posed to  peace,  of  which  in  all  nations 
and  under  all  circumstances,  there  is 
always  a  great  number,  turn  themselves 
away  completely  from  the  road  to  resist- 
ance. Whatever  may  take  place  subse- 
quently, we  must  always  look  upon  the 
object  as  attained,  and  the  business  of 
war  as  ended,  by  a  peace. 

As  protection  of  the  country  is  that  one 
of  these  objects  to  which  the  military 
force  is  destined,  therefore  the  natural 
order  is  that  first  of  all  this  force  should 
be  destroyed ;  then  the  country  subdued ; 

CHAP.    II.] 



and  tbrongh  the  effect  of  these  two  re- 
sults, as  well  as  the  position  we  then  hold, 
the  enemy  should  be  forced  to  make 
peace.  Generally  the  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  force  is  done  by  degrees,  and  in 
just  the  same  measure  the  conquest  of 
the  country  follows  immediately.  The 
two  likewise  usually  react  upon  each 
other,  because  the  loss  of  provinces  occa- 
sions a  diminution  of  military  force.  But 
this  order  is  by  no  means  necessary,  and 
on  that  account  it  also  does  not  always 
take  place.  The  enemy's  army,  before 
it  is  sensibly  weakened,  may  retreat  to 
the  opposite  side  of  the  country,  or  even 
quite  out  of  the  country.  In  this  case, 
tiierefore,  the  greater  part  or  the  whole 
of  the  country  is  conquered. 

But  this  object  of  war  in  the  abstract, 
this  final  means  of  attaining  the  political 
object  in  which  all  others  are  combined, 
the  disarming  the  enemy,  is  by  no  means 
general  in  reality,  is  not  a  condition 
necessary  to  peace,  and  therefore  can  in 
no  wise  be  set  up  in  theory  as  a  law. 
There  are  innumerable  instances  of 
treaties  in  which  peace  has  been  settled 
before  either  party  could  be  looked  upon 
as  disarmed;  indeed,  even  before  the 
balance  had  undergone  any  sensible 
alteration.  Nay,  further,  if  we  look  at 
the  case  in  the  concrete,  then  we  must 
say  that  in  a  whole  class  of  cases  the 
idea  of  a  complete  defeat  of  the  enemy 
would  be  a  mere  imaginative  flight, 
especially  if  the  enemy  is  considerably 

The  reason  why  the  object  deduced 
from  the  conception  of  war  is  not  adapted 
in  general  to  real  war,  lies  in  the  differ- 
ence between  the  two,  which  is  discussed 
in  the  preceding  chapter.  If  it  was  as 
pure  conception  gives  it,  then  a  war  be- 
tween two  states  of  very  unequal  military 
strength  would  appear  an  absurdity; 
therefore  would  be  impossible.  At  most, 
the  inequality  between  the  physical 
forces  might  be  such  that  it  could  be 
balanced  by  the  moral  forces,  and  that 

would  not  go  far  with  our  present  social 
condition  in  Europe.  Therefore,  if  we 
have  seen  wars  take  place  between  states 
of  very  unequal  power,  that  has  been  the 
case  because  there  is  a  wide  difference 
between  war  in  reality  and  its  original 

There  are  two  considerations,  which  as 
motives,  may  practically  take  the  place 
of  inability  to  continue  the  contest.  The 
first  is  the  improbability,  the  second  is 
the  excessive  price  of  success. 

According  to  what  we  have  seen  in  the 
foregoing  chapter,  war  must  always  set 
itself  free  from  the  strict  law  of  logical 
necessity,  and  seek  aid  from  the  calcula- 
tion of  probabilities :  and  as  this  is  so 
much  the  more  the  case,  the  more  the 
war  has  a  bias  that  way,  from  the  cir- 
cumstances out  of  which  it  has  arisen — 
the  smaller  its  motives  are  and  the  ex- 
citement it  has  raised — so  it  is  also  con- 
ceivable how  out  of  this  calculation  of 
probabilities  even  motives  to  peace  may 
arise.  War  does  not  therefore  always 
require  to  be  fought  out  imtil  one  party 
is  overthrown ;  and  we  may  suppose  that, 
when  the  motives  and  passions  are 
slight,  a  weak  probability  will  suffice  to 
move  that  side  to  which  it  is  unfavourable 
to  give  way.  Now,  were  the  other  side 
convinced  of  this  beforehand,  it  is  natural 
that  he  would  strive  for  this  probability 
only  instead  of  first  trying  and  making 
the  detour  of  a  total  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  army. 

Still  more  general  in  its  influence  on 
the  resolution  to  peace  is  the  considera- 
tion of  the  expenditure  of  force  already 
made,  and  further  required.  As  war  is  no 
act  of  blind  passion,  but  is  dominated 
over  by  the  political  object,  therefore 
the  value  of  that  object  determines  the 
measure  of  the  sacrifices  by  which  it  is 
to  be  purchased.  This  will  be  the  case, 
not  only  as  regards  extent,  but  also  as 
regards  duration.  As  soon,  therefore, 
as  the  required  outlay  becomes  so  great 
that  the  political  object  is  no   longer 



[book  I. 

equal  in  value,  the  object  must  be  given 
up,  and  peace  will  be  the  result. 

We  see,  therefore,  that  in  wars  where 
one  cannot  completely  disarm  the  other, 
the  motives  to  peace  on  both  sides  will 
rise  or  fall  on  each  sidd  according  to  the 
probability  of  future  success  and  the 
required  outlay.  If  these  motives  were 
equally  strong  on  both  sides,  they  would 
meet  in  the  centre  of  their  political 
difference.  Where  they  are  strong  on 
one  side,  they  might  be  weak  on 
the  other.  If  their  amount  is  only  suffi- 
cient, peace  will  follow,  but  naturally  to 
the  aidvantage  of  that  side  which  has  the 
weakest  motive  for  its  conclusion.  We 
purposely  pass  over  here  the  difference 
which  the  positive  and  negative  character 
of  the  political  end  must  necessarily  pro* 
duce  practically ;  for  although  that  is,  as 
we  shall  hereafter  show,  of  the  highest 
importance,  still  we  are  obliged  to  keep 
here  to  a  more  general  point  of  view,  be- 
cause the  original  political  views  in  the 
course  of  the  war  change  very  much, 
and  at  last  may  become  totally  different, 
just  because  they  are  determined  by  results 
and  probable  events. 

Now  comes  the  question  how  to  in- 
fluence the  probability  of  success.  In 
the  first  place,  naturaUy  by  the  same 
means  which  we  use  when  the  object  is 
the  subjugation  of  the  enemy,  by  the  des* 
truotion  of  his  military  force  and  the 
conquest  of  his  provinces ;  but  these  two 
means  are  not  exactly  of  the  same  import 
here  as  they  would  be  in  reference  to  that 
object.  If  we  attack  the  enemy's  army, 
it  is  a  very  different  thing  whether  we 
intend  to  follow  up  the  first  blow  with  a 
succession  of  others  until  the  whole  force 
is  destroyed,  or  whether  we  mean  to 
content  ourselves  with  a  victory  to  shake 
the  enemy's  feeling  of  security,  to  con- 
vince him  of  our  superiority,  and  to  in- 
stil into  him  a  feeling  of  apprehension 
about  the  future.  If  this  is  our  object, 
we  only  go  so  far  in  the  destruction  of 
his  forces  as  is  sufficient.  In  like  manner 

the  conquest  of  the  enemjr's  provinces  is 
quite  a  different  measure  if  the  object  is 
not  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's  army. 
In  the  latter  case,  the  destruction  of  the 
army  is  the  real  effectual  action,  and  the 
taking  of  the  provinces  only  a  conse- 
quence  of  it;  to  take  them  before  the 
army  had  been  defeated  would  always 
be  looked  upon  only  as  a  necessaiy  evil. 
On  the  other  hand,  if  our  views  are  not 
directed  upon  the  complete  destruction 
of  the  enemy's  force,  and  if  we  are  sure 
that  the  enemy  does  not  seek  but  fears  to 
bring  matters  to  a  bloody  decision,  the 
taking  possession  of  a  weak  or  defence- 
less province  is  an  advantage  in  itself 
and  if  this  advantage  is  of  sufficient  im- 
portance to  make  the  enemy  apprehensive 
about  the  general  result,  then  it  may 
also  be  regarded  as  a  shorter  road  to  peace. 

But  now  we  come  upon  a  peculiar 
means  of  influencing  the  probability  of 
the  result  without  destroying  the  enemy's 
army,  namely,  upon  the  expeditions 
which  have  a  direct  connection  with 
political  views.  If  there  are  any  enter- 
prises which  are  particularly  likely  to 
break  up  the  enemy's  alliances  or  make 
them  inoperative,  to  gain  new  alliances 
for  ourselves,  to  raise  political  powers  in 
our  own  favour,  etc.,etc.,  then  it  is  easy  to 
conceive  how  much  these  may  increase 
the  probability  of  success,  and  become  a 
shorter  way  towards  our  aim  than  the 
routing  of  the  enemy's  army. 

The  second  question  is  how  to  act 
upon  the  enemy's  expenditure  in  strength, 
that  is,  to  raise  the  price  of  success. 

The  enemy's  outlay  in  strong^  lies  in 
the  wear  and  tear  of  his  forces,  conse- 
quently in  the  destruction  of  them  on  our 
part,  and  in  the  loss  of  provinces,  conse- 
quently the  conquest  of  them  by  us. 

Here  again,  on  account  of  the  various 
sig^fications  of  these  means,  so  likewise 
it  will  be  found  that  neither  of  them 
will  bid  identical  in  its  signification,  in 
all  cases  if  the  objects  are  different 
The  smallness  in  general  of  this  differ- 

CHAP,  n.] 



ence  must  not  cause  us  perplexity,  for  in 
reality  the  weakest  motives,  the  finest 
shades  of  difference,  often  decide  in 
favour  of  this  or  that  method  of  apply- 
ing force.  Our  only  business  here  is  to 
show  that  certain  conditions  being  sup- 
posed, the  possibility  of  attaining  the 
aim  in  different  ways  is  no  contradiction, 
absurdity,  nor  even  error. 

Besides  these  two  means  there  are  three 
other  peculiar  ways  of  directly  increasing 
the  waste  of  the  enemy's  force.      The 
first  is  invasionf  that  is  t^e  occupation  of 
the  enemy^s  territory,  not  with  a  view  to 
keeping  it,  but  in  order  to  levy  contribu- 
tions there,  or  to  devastate  it.  The  imme- 
diate object  is  here  neither  the  conquest 
of  the  enemy's  territory  nor  the  defeat  of 
his  armed  force,  but  merely  to  do  him 
damage  in  a  general  way.    The  second  way 
is  to  select  for  the  object  of  our  enter- 
prises those  points  at  which  we  can  do 
the  enemy  most  harm.    Nothing  is  easier 
to  conceive  than  two  different  directions 
in  which  our  force  may  be  employed,  the 
first  of  which  is  to  be  preferred  if  our 
object  is  to  defeat  the  enemy's  army, 
while  the  other  is  more  advantageous* if 
the  defeat  of  the  enemy  is  out  of  the  ques- 
tion.    According  to  the  usual  mode  of 
speaking  we  should  say  that  the  first 
is  more  military,  the  other  more  poHti- 
caL      But   if  we  take   our  view  from 
the  highest  point,  both  are  equally  mili- 
tary, and  neither  the  one  nor  the  other 
can  be  eligible  unless  it  suits  the  circum- 
stances of  the  case.   The  third,  by  far  the 
most  important,  from  the  great  number 
of  cases  which  it  embraces,  is  the  wearying 
out  the  enemy.    We  choose  this  expres- 
sion not  only  to  explain  our  meaning 
in  few  words  but  because  it  represents 
the  thing  exactly,  and  is  not  so  figura- 
tive as  may  at  first  appear.     The  idea  of 
wearying  out  in  a  struggle  amounts  in 
reality  to  a  gradual  exhaustion  of  the  phy- 
eieal powers  and  of  the  will  produced  through 
the  ling  continuance  of  exertion. 
Now  if  we  want  to  overcome  the  enemy 

by  the  duration  of  the  contest  we  must 
content  ourselves  with  as  small  objects 
as  possible,  for  it  is  in  the  nature  of  the 
thing  that  a  g^eat  end  requires  a  greater 
expenditure  of  force  than  a  small  one ; 
but  the  smallest  object  that  we  can  pro- 
pose to  ourselves  is  simple  passive  resis- 
tance, that  is  a  combat  without  any 
positive  view.  In  this  way,  therefore,  our 
means  attain  their  greatest  relative  value, 
and  therefore  the  result  is  best  secured. 
How  far  now  can  this  negative  mode  of 
proceeding  be  carried  ?  Plainly  not  to 
absolute  passivity,  for  mere  endurance 
would  not  be  fighting :  and  the  defen- 
sive is  an  activity  by  which  so  much  of 
the  enemy's  power  must  be  destroyed, 
that  he  must  give  up  his  object.  That 
alone  is  what  we  aim  at  in  each  single 
act,  and  therein  consists  the  negative 
nature  of  our  object. 

No  doubt  this  negative  object  in  its  sin- 
gle act  is  not  so  effective  as  the  positive 
object  in  the  same  direction  woidd  be, 
supposing  it  successful ;  but  there  is  this 
difference  in  its  favour,  that  it  succeeds 
more  easily  than  the  positive,  and  there- 
fore it  holds  out  ^eater  certainty  of 
success ;  what  is  wanting  in  the  efficacy 
of  its  single  act,  must  be  gained  through 
time,  that  is,  through  the  duration  of  the 
contest,  and  therefore  this  negative  inten- 
tion, which  constitutes  the  principle  of  the 
pure  defensive,  is  also  the  natural  means  of 
overcoming  the  enemy  by  the  duration  of 
the  combat,  that  is  of  wearing  him  out. 

Here  Hes  the  origin  of  that  difference 
of  Offensive  and  Defensive,  the  influence  of 
which  prevails  over  the  whole  province  of 
war.  We  cannot  at  present  pursue  this 
subject  further  than  to  observe  that  from 
this  negative  intention  are  to  be  deduced 
all  the  advantages  and  all  the  stronger 
forms  of  combat  which  are  on  the  side 
of  the  Defensive,  and  in  which  that  philo- 
sophical-dynamic law  which  exists  be- 
tween the  greatness  and  the  certainty  of 
success  is  realised.  We  shall  resume  the 
consideration  of  all  this  hereafter. 



[book  I. 

If  then  the  negative  purpose,  that  is 
the  concentration  of  all  the  means  into  a 
state  of  pure  resistance,  afiEbrds  a  supe- 
riority in  the  contest,  and  if  this  ad- 
vantage is  sufficient  to  balance  whatever 
superiority  in  numbers  the  adversary 
may  have,  then  the  mere  duration  of  the 
contest  will  suffice  gradually  to  bring  the 
loss  of  force  on  the  part  of  the  adversary 
to  a  point  at  which  the  political  object 
can  no  longer  be  an  equivalent,  a  point 
at  which,  therefore,  he  must  give  up  the 
contest.  We  see  then  that  this  class  of 
means,  the  wearying  out  of  the  enemy, 
includes  the  great  niunber  of  cases  in 
which  the  wefJcer  resists  the  stronger. 

Frederick  the  Great  during  the  Seven 
Years'  War  was  never  strong  enough  to 
overthrow  the  Austrian  monarchy ;  and  if 
he  had  tried  to  do  so  after  the  fashion  of 
Charles  the  Twelfth,  he  would  inevitably 
have  had  to  succumb  himselfl  But 
after  his  skilful  application  of  the  system 
of  husbanding  his  resources  had  shown 
the  powers  allied  against  him,  through  a 
seven  years'  war,  that  the  actual  expen- 
diture of  strength  far  exceeded  what  they 
had  at  first  anticipated,  they  made  peace. 

We  see  then  that  there  are  many 
ways  to  the  aim  in  war ;  that  the  com- 
plete subjugation  of  the  enemy  is  not 
essential  in  every  C€i8e,  that  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  enemy's  military  force,  the 
conquest  of  enemy's  provinces,  the  mere 
occupation  of  them,  the  mere  invasion  of 
them — enterprises  which  are  aimed  di- 
rectly at  political  objects — lastly  a  passive 
expectation  of  the  enemy's  blow,  are  all 
means  which,  each  in  itself,  may  be  used 
to  force  the  enemy's  will  just  according 
as  the  peculiar  circumstances  of  the  case 
lead  us  to  expect  more  from  the  one  or 
the  other.  We  could  still  add  to  these  a 
whole  category  of  shorter  methods  of 
gaining  the  end,  which  might  be  called 
arg^uments  ad  hominem.  What  branch 
of  human  affairs  is  there  in  which  these 
sparks  of  individual  spirit  have  not 
made  their  appearance,  flying  over  all 

formal  considerations  ?  And  least  of  all 
can  they  fail  to  appear  in  war,  where 
the  personal  character  of  the  combatants 
plays  such  an  important  part,  both  in 
the  cabinet  and  in  the  field.  We  limit 
ourselves  to  pointing  this  out,  as  it  would 
be  pedantry  to  attempt  to  reduce  such 
influences  into  classies.  Including  these, 
we  may  say  that  the  number  of  possible 
ways  of  reaching  the  aim  rises  to  infi- 

To  avoid  under-estimating  these  dif- 
ferent short  roads  to  the  aim,  either 
estimating  them  only  as  rare  exceptions, 
or  holding  the  diflorence  which  they 
cause  in  the  conduct  of  war  as  insignifi- 
cant, we  must  bear  in  mind  the  diversity 
of  political  objects  which  may  cause  a 
war, — measure  at  a  glance  the  distance 
which  there  is  between  a  death  struggle 
for  political  existence,  and  a  war  which  a 
forced  or  tottering  alliance  makes  a  mat- 
ter of  disagreeable  duty.  Between  the  two, 
gradations  innumerable  occur  in  realiiy. 
If  we  reject  one  of  these  gradations  in 
theory,  we  might  with  equal  right  reject 
the  whole,  which  would  be  tantamount 
to  shutting  the  real  world  completely  out 
of  sight. 

These  are  the  circumstances  in  general 
connected  with  the  aim  which  we  have  to 
pursue  in  war;  let  us  now  turn  to  the 

There  is  only  one  single  means,  it  is  the 
Fight,  However  diversified  this  may  be 
in  form,  however  widely  it  may  differ 
from  a  rough  vent  of  hatred  and  ani- 
mosity in  a  hand-to-hand  encounter,  what- 
ever number  of  things  may  introduce 
themselves  which  are  not  actual  fighting, 
still  it  is  always  implied  in  the  conception 
of  war,  that  all  the  effects  manifested 
have  their  roots  in  the  combat. 

That  this  must  also  always  be  so  in  the 
greatest  diversity  and  complication  of  the 
realiiy,  is  proved  in  a  very  simple  man^ 
ner.  All  that  takes  place  in  war  takes 
place  through  armed  forces,  but  where 
the  forces  of  war,  t.  0.,  armed  men  aro 

CHAP.  II.] 



applied,  there  the  idea  of  fighting  must 
of  necessity  be  at  the  foundation. 

All,  therefore,  that  relates  to  forces  of 
war — aU  that  is  connected  with  their 
creation,  maintenance,  and  application, 
belongs  to  military  activity. 

Creation  and  maintenance  are  obviously 
only  the  means,  whilst  application  is  the 

The  contest  in  war  is  not  a  contest  of 
individual  against  individual,  but  an 
organised  whole,  consisting  of  manifold 
parts ;  in  this  great  whole  we  may  dis- 
tinguish units  of  two  kinds,  the  one 
determined  by  the  subject,  the  other  by 
the  object.  In  an  army  the  mass  of  com- 
batants ranges  itself  always  into  an  order 
of  new  units,  which  again  form  members 
of  a  higher  order.  The  combat  of  each  of 
these  members  forms,  therefore,  also  a 
more  or  less  distinct  unit.  Further,  the 
motive  of  the  fight ;  therefore  its  object 
forms  its  unit. 

Now  to  each  of  these  units  which  we 
distinguish  in  the  contest,  we  attach  the 
name  of  combat. 

If  the  idea  of  combat  lies  at  the  foun- 
dation of  every  application  of  armed 
power,  then  also  the  application  of  armed 
force  in  general,  is  nothing  more  than  the 
determining  and  arranging  a  certain 
number  of  combats. 

Every  activity  in  war,  therefore,  neces- 
sarily relates  to  the  combat  either  directly 
or  indirectly.  The  soldier  is  levied, 
elothed,  armed,  exercised,  he  sleeps,  eats, 
drinks  and  marches,  all  merely  to  fight  at 
the  right  time  and  place. 

If,  therefore,  all  the  threads  of  military 
activity  terminate  in  the  combat,  we  shaU 
grasp  them  all  when  we  settle  the  order 
of  the  combats.  Only  £rom  this  order  and 
its  execution  proceed  the  effects ;  never 
directly  from  the  conditions  preceding 
them.  Now,  in  the  combat  all  the  action 
is  directed  to  the  destruction  of  the  enemy, 
or  rather  of  hie  fighting  powere^  for  this 
lies  in  the  conception  of  combat.  The 
destruction  of  the  enemy's  fighting  power 

is,  therefore,  always  the  means  to  attain 
the  object  of  the  combat. 

This  object  may  likewise  be  the  mere 
destruction  of  the  enemy's  armed  force; 
but  that  is  not  by  any  means  necessary, 
and  it  may  be  something  quite  different. 
Whenever,  for  instance,  as  we  have 
shown,  the  defeat  of  the  enemy  is  not 
the  only  means  to  attain  the  political 
object,  whenever  there  are  other  objects 
which  may  be  pursued,  as  the  aim  in  a 
war,  then  it  follows  of  itself  that  such 
other  objects  may  become  the  object  of 
particular  acts  of  warfare,  and,  therefore, 
also  the  object  of  combats. 

But    even    those    combats  which,   as 
subordinate  acts,  are  in  the  strict  sense 
devoted  to  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
fighting  force,  need  not  have  that  destruc- . 
tion  itself  as  their  first  object. 

If  we  think  of  the  manifold  parts  of  a 
great  armed  force,  of  the  number  of  cir- 
ciunstances  which  come  into  activity  when 
it  is  employed,  then  it  is  clear  that  the 
combat  of  such  a  force  must  also  require  a 
manifold  organisation,  a  subordinating  of 
parts  and  formation.  There  may  and 
must  naturally  arise  for  particular  parts 
a  number  of  objects  which  are  not  them- 
selves the  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
armed  force,  and  which,  while  they  cer- 
tainly contribute  to  increase  that  destruc- 
tion, do  so  only  in  an  indirect  manner. 
If  a  battalion  is  ordered  to  drive  the 
enemy  from  a  rising  groimd,  or  a  bridge, 
&c.,  then  properly  the  occupation  of  any 
such  locality  is  the  real  object,  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  enemy's  armed  force,  which 
takes  place,  only  the  means  or  secondary 
matter.  If  the  enemy  can  be  driven  away 
merely  by  a  demonstration,  the  object  is 
attained  aU  the  same;  but  this  hill  or 
bridge  is,  in  point  of  fact,  only  required 
as  a  means  of  increasing  the  gross  amount 
of  loss  inflicted  on  the  enemy's  armed 
force.  If  this  is  the  case  on  the  field  of 
battle,  much  more  must  it  be  so  on  the 
whole  theatre  of  war,  where  not  only  one 
army  is  opposed  to  another,  but  one  State, 



[book  I. 

one  nation,  one  whole  country  to  another. 
Here  the  number  of  possible  relations^ 
and  consequently  possible  combinations, 
is  much  greater,  the  diversity  of  measures 
increased,  and  by  the  gradation  of  objects 
each  subordinate  to  another,  the  first 
means  employed  is  further  apart  from 
the  ultimate  object. 

It  is,  therefore,  for  many  reasons  pos- 
sible that  the  object  of  a  combat  is  not 
the  destruction  of  the  enemy's  force,  that 
is,  of  the  force  opposed  to  us,  but  that 
this  only  appears  as  a  means.  But  in  all 
such  cases  it  is  no  longer  a  question  of 
complete  destruction,  for  the  combat  is 
here  nothing  else  but  a  measure  of 
strength — ^has  in  itself  no  value  except 
only  that  of  the  present  result,  that  is,  of 
its  decision. 

But  a  measuring  of  strength  may  be 
effected  in  cases  where  the  opposing  sides 
are  very  unequal  by  a  mere  comparative 
estimate.  In  such  cases  no  fighting  will 
take  place,  and  the  weaker  wUl  immedi- 
ately give  way. 

K  the  object  of  a  combat  is  not  always 
the  destruction  of  the  enemy's  forces 
therein  en  gaged — andif  its  object  can  often 
be  attained  as  well  without  the  combat 
taking  place  at  all,  by  merely  making  a 
resolve  to  fight,  and  by  the  circumstances 
to  which  that  gives  rise— then  that  ex- 
plains how  a  whole  campaign  may  be 
carried  on  with  great  activity  without  the 
actual  combat  playing  any  notable  part 
in  it. 

That  this  may  be  so,  military  history 
proves  by  a  himdred  examples.  How 
many  of  Uiose  cases  had  a  bloodless  deci- 
sion which  can  be  justified,  that  is,  with- 
out involving  a  contradiction ;  and  whether 
some  of  the  celebrities  who  rose  out  of 
them  would  stand  criticism  we  shall 
leave  undecided,  for  all  we  have  to  do 
with  the  matter  is  to  show  the  possibility 
of  such  a  course  of  events  in  war. 

We  have  only  one  means  in  war — ^the 
battle;  but  this  means,  by  the  infinite 
variety  of  ways  in  which  it  may  be  ap- 

plied, leads  us  into  all  the  different  ways 
which  the  multiplicity  of  objects  allows 
of,  so  that  we  seem  to  have  gained 
nothing;  but  that  is  not  the  case,  for 
from  this  imity  of  means  proceeds  a 
thread  which  assists  the  study  of  the 
subject,  as  it  runs  through  the  whole 
web  of  military  activity,  and  holds  it 

But  we  have  considered  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  enemy's  force  as  one  of  the 
objects  which  may  be  pursued  in  war, 
and  left  undecided  what  importance 
should  be  given  to  it  amongst  other  ob- 
jects. In  certain  cases  it  will  depend  on 
circumstances,  and  as  a  general  question 
we  have  left  its  value  undetermined.  We 
are  once  more  brought  back  upon  it,  and 
we  shall  be  able  to  get  an  insight  into 
the  value  which  must  necessarily  be  ac- 
corded to  it. 

The  combat  is  the  single  activity  in 
war;  in  the  combat  the  destruction  of 
the  enemy  opposed  to  us  is  the  means  to 
the  end ;  it  is  so  even  when  the  combat 
does  not  actually  take  place,  because  in 
that  case  there  lies  at  the  root  of  the  de- 
cision the  supposition  at  all  events  that 
this  destruction  is  to  be  regarded  as 
beyond  doubt.  It  follows,  therefore, 
that  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
military  force  is  the  foundation-stone 
of  all  action  in  war,  the  great  sup- 
port of  all  combinations,  which  rest  upon 
it  like  the  arch  on  its  abutments.  All 
action,  therefore,  takes  place  on  the  sup- 
position that  if  the  solution  by  force  of 
arms  which  lies  at  its  foundation  should 
be  realised,  it  will  be  a  favourable  one. 
The  decision  by  arms  is,  for  all  operations 
in  war,  great  and  small,  what  cash  pay- 
ment is  in  bill  transactions.  However 
remote  from  each  other  these  relations, 
however  seldom  the  realisation  may  take 
place,  still  it  can  never  entirely  fail  to 

If  the  decision  by  arms  lies  at  the  foun- 
dation of  all  combinations,  then  it  follows 
that  the  enemy  can  defeat  each  of  them  by 

CHAP.  II.] 



gaining  a  successful  decision  with  arms, 
not  merely  if  it  is  that  one  on  which  our 
combination  directly  depends,  but  also 
by  any  other,  if  it  is  only  important 
enough  for  every  important  decision  by 
arms — ^that  is,  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
forces  reacts  upon  all  preceding  it,  be- 
cause, like  a  liquid  element,  they  bring 
themselyes  to  a  level. 

Thus,  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
armed  force  appears,  therefore,  always 
as  the  superior  and  more  effectuid  means, 
to  which  all  others  must  give  way. 

But  certainly  it  is  only  when  there  is 
a  supposed  equality  in  all  other  condi- 
tions Qbat  we  can  ascribe  to  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  enemy's  armed  force  a  greater 
efficacy.  It  would,  therefore,  be  a  great 
mistake  to  draw  from  it  the  conclusion 
that  a  blind  dash  must  always  gain  the 
victory  over  skill  and  caution.  An  im- 
skilful  attack  would  lead  to  the  destruc- 
tion of  our  own  and  not  of  the  enemy's 
force,  and  therefore  is  not  what  is  here 
meant.  The  superior  efficacy  belongs 
not  to  the  means  but  to  the  end^  and  we 
are  only  comparing  the  effect  of  one 
realised  aim  with  the  other. 

If  we  speak  of  the  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  armed  force,  we  must  expressly 
point  out  that  nothing  obHges  us  to  con- 
due  this  idea  to  the  mere  physical  force ; 
on  the  contrary,  the  moral  is  necessarily 
implied  as  well,  because  both  in  fact  are 
interwoven  with  each  other  even  in  the 
most  minute  details,  and,  therefore,  can- 
not be  separated.  But  it  is  just  in  con- 
nection with  the  inevitable  effect  which 
has  been  referred  to,  of  a  great  act  of 
destruction  (a  great  victory)  upon  all 
other  decisions  by  arms,  that  this  moral 
element  is  most  fluid,  if  we  may  use  that 
expression,  and,  therefore,  distributes  it- 
self the  most  easily  through  all  the 

Against  the  far  superior  worth  which 
the  destruction  of  the  enemy's  armed 
force  has  over  all  other  means,  stands  the 
expense  and  risk  of  this  means,  and  it  is 

only  to  avoid  these  that  any  other  means 
are  taken. 

That  this  means  must  be  costly  stands 
to  reason,  for  the  waste  of  our  own  mili- 
tary forces  must,  ceteris  paribus,  always 
be  greater  the  more  our  aim  is  directed 
upon  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's. 

But  the  danger  of  this  means  lies  in 
this,  that  just  the  greater  efficacy  which 
we  seek  recoils  on  ourselves,  and  therefore 
has  worse  consequences  in  case  we  fail  of 

Other    methods    are,    therefore,    less 
costly  when  they  succeed,  less  dangerous 
when  they  fail;    but  in    this  is   neces- 
sarily lodged  the  condition  that  they  are 
only  opposed  to   similar  ones,  that  is, 
that  the  enemy  acts  on  the  same  prin- 
ciple ;  for  if  the  enemy  should  choose  the 
way  of  a  great   decision  by  arms,   our 
means  must  on  that  account  he  changed  against 
our  toill^  in  order  to  correspond  with  his. 
Then  aU  depends  on  the  issue  of  the  act 
of  destruction ;  but  of  course  it  is  evident 
that,    ceteris    paribus,   in     this    act    we 
must  be  at  a  disadvantage  in  all  respects 
because  our  views  and  our  means  had 
been  directed  in  part  upon  other  objects, 
which  is  not  the  case  with  the  enemy. 
Two  different  objects  of  which  one  is  not 
part    of   the  other  exclude  each  other ; 
and,  therefore,    a  force  which  may  be 
applicable  for  the  one,  may  not  serve  for  * 
the  other.       If,   therefore,  one   of  two 
belligerents  is  determined  to  take  the 
way    of   the   great  decision    by    arms, 
then  he   has    also   a    high  probability 
of  success,    as    soon    as    he    is  certain 
his  opponent   will   not  take  that  way, 
but    follows    a    different    object ;     and 
every  one  who  sets  before  himself  any 
such  other  aim  only  does  so  in  a  reason- 
able maimer,  provided  he  acts  on  the  sup- 
position that  his  adversary  has  as  little 
intention  as  he  has  of  resorting  to  the 
great  decision  by  arms. 

But  what  we  have  hera  said  of  another 
direction  of  views  and  forces  relates  only 
to  other  positive  objects,  which  we  may 



[book  I. 

propoee  to  ourselves  in  wax  besides  the 
destruction  of  the  enemy's  force,  not  by 
any  means  to  the  pure  defensive,  which 
may  be  adopted  with  a  view  thereby  to 
exhaust  the  enemy's  forces.  In  the  pure 
defensive,  the  positive  object  is  wanting, 
and,  therefore,  while  on  the  defensive, 
our  forces  cannot  at  the  same  time  be 
directed  on  other  objects ;  they  can  only 
be  employed  to  defeat  the  intentions  of 
the  enemy. 

We  have  now  to  consider  the  opposite 
of  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's  armed 
force,  that  is  to  say,  the  preservation 
of  our  own.  These  two  efforts  always 
go  together,  as  they  mutually  act  and 
re-act  on  each  other ;  they  are  integral 
parts  of  one  and  the  same  view,  and 
we  have  only  to  ascertain  what  effect 
is  produced  when  one  or  the  other 
has  the  predominance.  The  endeavour 
to  destroy  the  enemy's  force  has  a 
positive  object  and  leads  to  positive  re- 
sults, of  which  the  final  aim  is  the 
conquest  of  the  enemy.  The  preser- 
vation of  our  own  forces  has  a  negative 
object,  leads  ^therefore  to  the  defeat  of 
the  enemy's  intentions,  that  is  to  pure 
resistance,  of  which  the  final  aim  can  be 
nothing  more  than  to  prolong  the  dura- 
tion of  the  contest,  so  that  the  enemy 
shall  exhaust  himself  in  it. 

The  effort  with  a  positive  object  calls 
into  existence  the  act  of  destruction  ;  the 
effort  with  the  negative  object  awaits  it. 

How  far  this  state  of  expectation  should 
and  may  be  carried  we  shall  enter  into 
more  particularly  in  the  theory  of  attack 
and  defence,  at  the  origin  of  which  we 
again  find  ourselves.  Here  we  shall  con- 
tent ourselves  with  saying  that  the  await* 
ing  must  be  no  absolute  endurance,  and 
that  in  the  action  botmd  up  with  it  the 
destruction  of  the  enemy's  armed  force  en- 
gaged in  this  conflict  may  be  the  aim  just 
as  well  as  anything  else.  It  would,  there- 
fore, be  a  great  error  in  the  fundamental 
idea  to  suppose  that  the  consequence  of 
the  negative  course  is  that  we  are  pre- 

cluded from  choosing  the  destruction  of 
the  enemy's  military  force  as  our  object, 
and  must  prefer  a   bloodless  solution. 
The  advantage  which  the  negative  effort 
gives  may   certainly  lead  to  that,   but 
only  at  the  risk  of  its  not  being  the  most 
advisable  method,  as  that  question  is  de- 
pendent on  totally  different  conditions, 
resting  not  with  ourselves  but  with  our 
opponents.      This  other  bloodless  way 
cannot,   therefore,    be   looked  upon  at 
a]l  as  the  natural  means  of  satisfying 
our  great  anxiety  to  spare  our  forces; 
on   the   contrary,    when    circumstances 
are  not  favourable  to  that  way,  it  would 
be  the  means  of  completely  ruining  them. 
Very  many  Oenercds  have  fallen  into 
this  error,  and  been  ruined  by  it    The 
only  necessary  effect  resulting  from  the 
superiority  of  the  negative  effort  is  the 
delay  of  the  decision,  so  that  the  party 
acting  takes  refuge  in  that  way,  as  it 
were,  in  the  expectation  of  the  decisive 
moment.     The  consequence  of  that  is 
generally  the  postponement  of  the  action  as 
much  as  possible  in  time  and  also  in  space, 
in  so  far  as  space  is  in  connection  with 
it.     K  the  moment  has  arrived  in  which 
this  can    no    longer   be  done    without 
ruinous  disadvantage,  then  the  advan- 
tage of  the  negative  must  be  considered 
as  exhausted,  and  then   comes  forward 
unchanged  the  effort  for  the  destruction 
of  the  enemy's  force,  which  was  kept 
back  by  a  counterpoise,  but  never  dis- 

We  have  seen,  therefore,  in  the  fore- 
going reflections,  that  there  are  many 
ways  to  the  aim,  that  is,  to  the  attain- 
ment of  the  political  object ;  but  that  the 
only  means  is  the  combat,  and  that  con- 
sequently everything  is  subject  to  a 
supreme  law :  which  is  the  decision  hy 
arms;  that  where  this  is  really  demanded 
by  one,  it  is  a  redress  which  cannot  be 
refused  by  the  other ;  that,  therefore,  a 
belligerent  who  takes  any  other  way 
must  make  sure  that  his  opponent  will 
not  take  this  means  of  redress,  or  his 

onAP.  m.] 



cause  may  be  lost  in  that  supreme  conrt ; 
that,  therefore,  in  short,  the  destruction 
of  the  enemy's  armed  force  amongst  all 
the  objects  which  can  be  pursued  in  war 
appears  always  as  that  one  which  over- 
rules all. 

What  may  be  achieved  by  combina- 
tions of  another  kind  in  war  we  shall 
only  learn  in  the  sequel,  and  naturally 
only  by  degrees.  We  content  ourselves 
here  with  acknowledging  in  general  their 
possibility,  as  something  pointing  to  the 
difference  between  the  reality  and  the  con- 
ception, and  to  the  influence  of  particular 
circumstances.  But  we  could  not  avoid 
showing  at  once  that  the  bloody  solution  of 
the  crisis,  the  effort  for  the  destruction 
of  the  enemy's  force,  is  the  firstborn  son 
of  war.  If  when  political  objects  are  un- 
important, motives  weak,  the  excitement 
of  forces  small,  a  cautious  commander 
tries  in  aU  kinds  of  ways,  without  great 
crises  and  bloody  solutions,  to  twist  him- 
self skilfully  into  a  peace  through  the 
characteristic  weaknesses  of  his  enemy 
in  the  field  and  in  the  Cabinet,  we  have 

no  right  to  find  fault  with  him,  if  the 
premises  on  which  he  acts  are  well 
founded  and  justified  by  success;  still 
we  must  require  him  to  remember  that 
he  only  travels  on  forbidden  tracks, 
where  the  Qtod  of  War  may  surprise 
him ;  that  he  ought  always  to  keep  his 
eye  on  the  enemy,  in  order  that  he  may 
not  have  to  defend  himself  with  a  dress 
rapier  if  the  enemy  takes  up  a  sharp 

The  consequences  of  the  nature  of  war, 
how  end  and  means  act  in  it,  how  in  the 
modifications  of  reality  it  deviates  some- 
times more  sometimes  less  from  its  strict 
original  conception,  plays  backwards  and 
forwards,  yet  always  remains  under  that 
strict  conception  as  under  a  supreme 
law  :  all  this  we  must  retain  in  idea,  and 
bear  constantly  in  mind  in  the  considera- 
tion of  each  of  the  succeeding  subjects,  if 
we  would  rightly  comprehend  their  true 
relations  and  proper  importance,  and  not 
become  involved  incessantly  in  the  most 
glaring  contradictions  with  the  reality, 
and  at  last  with  our  own  selves. 



Every  special  calling  in  life,  if  it  is  to  be 
followed  with  success,  requires  peculiar 
qualifications  of  understanding  and  soid. 
Where  these  are  of  a  high  order,  and 
manifest  themselves  by  extraordinary 
achievements  the  mind  to  which  they  be- 
long is  termed  genius. 

We  know  very  well  that  this  word  is 
used  in  many  sig^nifications,  which  are 
very  different  both  in  extent  and  nature, 
and  that  with  many  of  these  significa- 
tions it  is  a  very  difficult  task  to  define 
the  essence  of  Genius ;  but  as  we  neither 
profess  to  be  philosopher  nor  gramma- 

rian, we  must  be  allowed  to  keep  to 
the  meaning  usual  in  ordinary  language, 
and  to  understand  by  ''genius"  a  very 
high  mental  capacity  for  certain  employ- 

We  wish  to  stop  for  a  moment  over 
this  faculty  and  dignity  of  the  mind,  in 
order  to  vindicate  its  title,  and  to 
explain  more  fully  the  meaning  of  the 
conception.  But  we  shall  not  dwell  on 
that  (genius)  which  has  obtained  its  title 
through  a  very  great  talent,  at  genius 
properly  so-called,  that  is  a  conception 
which  has  no  defined  limits,  and  what 



[book  I. 

we  have  to  do  is  to  bring  under  con- 
sideration every  common  tendency  of  the 
powers  of  the  mind  and  soul  towards  the 
business  of  war,  the  whole  of  which  com- 
mon tendencies  we  may  look  upon  as 
the  essence  of  military  genius.  We  say 
"  common,"  for  just  therein  consists 
military  genius,  that  it  is  not  one  single 
quality  bearing  upon  war,  as,  for  in- 
stance, courage,  while  other  qualities 
of  mind  and  soul  are  wanting,  -or 
have  a  direction  which  is  unserviceable 
for  war ;  but  that  it  is  an  harmonious  asso- 
eiation  of  powers ^  in  which  one  or  other 
may  predominate,  but  none  must  be  in 

If  every  combatant  required  to  be  more 
or  less  endowed  with  military  genius, 
theji  our  armies  wotdd  be  very  weak ;  for 
as  it  implies  a  peculiar  bent  of  the  in- 
telligent powers,  therefore  it  can  only 
rarely  be  found  where  the  mental  powers 
of  a  people  are  called  into  requisition,  and 
trained  in  so  many  different  ways.  The 
fewer  the  employments  followed  by  a 
nation,  the  more  tiiat  of  arms  predomin- 
ates, so  much  the  more  prevd.ent  mili- 
tary genius  must  also  be  found.  But  this 
merely  applies  to  its  prevalence,  by  no 
means  to  its  degree,  for  that  depends  on 
the  general  state  of  intellectual  cidture  in 
the  country.  K  we  look  at  a  wild,  war- 
like race,  then  we  find  a  warlike  spirit  in 
individuals  much  more  common  than  in  a 
civilised  people ;  for  in  the  former  almost 
every  warrior  possesses  it ;  whilst  in  the 
civilised,  whole  masses  are  only  carried 
away  by  it  from  necessity,  never  by  incli- 
nation. But  amongst  uncivilised  people 
we  never  find  a  really  great  genercd,  and 
very  seldom  what  we  can  properly  call  a 
military  genius,  because  that  requires  a 
development  of  the  intelligent  powers 
which  cannot  be  found  in  an  uncivilised 
state.  That  a  civilised  people  may  also 
have  a  warlike  tendency  and  development 
is  a  matter  of  course ;  and  the  more  this 
is  general,  the  more  frequently  also  will 
military  spirit   be  found  in  individuals 

in  their  armies.  Now  as  this  coincides  in 
such  case  with  the  higher  degree  of 
civilisation,  therefore  from  such  nations 
have  issued  forth  the  most  brilliant 
military  exploits,  as  the  Bomans  and 
the  French  have  exemplified.  The 
greatest  names  in  these  and  in  all  other 
nations  that  have  been  renowned  in 
war,  belong  strictly  to  epochs  of  higher 

From  this  we  may  infer  how  great  a 
share  the  intelligent  powers  have  in  supe- 
rior military  genius.  We  shall  now  look 
more  closely  into  this  point. 

War  is  the  province  of  danger,  and 
therefore  courage  above  all  things  is  the 
first  quality  of  a  warrior. 

Courage  is  of  two  kinds ;  first,  physical 
courage,  or  courage  in  presence  of  danger 
to  the  person:  and  next,  moral  cour- 
age, or  courage  before  responsibility; 
whether  it  be  before  the  judgment-seat 
of  external  authority,  or  of  the  inner 
power,  the  conscience.  We  only  speak 
here  of  the  first. 

Courage  before  danger  to  the  person, 
again,  is  of  two  kinds.  First,  it  may  be 
indifference  to  danger,  whether  proceed- 
ing from  the  organism  of  the  individual, 
contempt  of  death,  or  habit :  in  any  of 
these  cases  it  is  to  be  regarded  as  a  per- 
manent condition. 

Secondly,  courage  may  proceed  from 
positive  motives ;  such  as  personal  pride, 
patriotism,  enthusiasm  of  any  kind.  In 
this  case  courage  is  not  so  much  a  nor- 
mal condition  as  an  impulse. 

We  may  conceive  that  the  two  kinds 
act  differently.  The  first  kind  is  more 
certain,  because  it  has  become  a  second 
nature,  never  forsakes  the  man :  the 
second  often  leads  him  further.  In  the 
first  there  is  more  of  firmness,  in  the 
second  of  boldness.  The  first  leaves  the 
judgment  cooler,  the  second  raises  its 
power  at  times,  but  often  bewilders  it. 
The  two  combined  make  up  the  most 
perfect  kind  of  courage. 

War  is  the  province  of  physical  exer- 

CHAP,  ni.] 



tion  and  suifering.  In  order  not  to  be 
completely  overcome  by  them,  a  certain 
strength  of  body  and  mind  is  required, 
which,  either  natural  or  acquired,  pro- 
duces indifference  to  them.  With  these 
qualifications  under  the  guidance  of 
simply  a  sound  understanding,  a  man  is 
at  once  a  proper  instrument  for  war;  and 
these  are  the  qualifications  so  generally 
to  be  met  with  amongst  wild  and  half- 
civilised  tribes.  If  we  go  further  in  the 
demands  which  war  makes  on  its  votaries, 
then  we  fijid  the  powers  of  the  imder- 
standing  predominating.  War  is  the  pro- 
vince of  uncertainty  :  three -fourths  of 
those  things  upon  which  action  in  war 
must  be  calculated,  are  hidden  more  or 
less  in  the  clouds  of  great  uncertainty. 
Here,  then,  above  all  a  fine  and  penetra- 
ting mind  is  called  for,  to  grope  out  the 
truth  by  the  tact  of  its  judgment 

A  common  understanding  may,  at  one 
time,  perhaps  hit  upon  this  truth  by 
accident:  an  extraordinary  courage,  at 
another  time,  may  compensate  for  the 
want  of  this  tact :  but  in  the  majority  of 
cases  the  average  result  will  always  bring 
to  light  the  deficient  tmderstanding. 

War  is  the  province  of  chance.  In  no 
sphere  of  human  activity  is  such  a  margin 
to  be  left  for  this  intruder,  because  none 
is  so  much  in  constant  contact  with  him 
on  all  sides.  He  increases  the  tmcer- 
tainty  of  every  circumstance,  and  de- 
ranges the  course  of  events. 

From  this  uncertainty  of  all  intelli- 
gence and  suppositions,  this  continual 
interposition  of  chance,  the  actor  in  war 
constantly  finds  things  different  to  his 
expectations;  and  this  cannot  fail  to 
have  an  influence  on  his  plans,  or  at 
least'  on  the  presumptions  connected  with 
these  plans.  If  this  influence  is  so  great 
as  to  render  the  pre-determined  plan 
completely  nugatory,  then,  as  a  rule,  a 
new  one  must  be  substituted  in  its  place ; 
but  at  the  moment  the  necessary  data 
are  often  wanting  for  this,  because  in 
the  course  of  action  circumstances  press 

for  immediate  decision,  and  allow  no 
time  to  look  about  for  fresh  data, 
often  not  enough  for  mature  considera- 
tion. But  it  much  more  often  happens 
that  the  correction  of  one  premise,  and 
the  knowledge  of  chance  events  which 
have  arisen,  are  not  quite  sufS.cient 
to  overthrow  our  plans  completely,  but 
only  suffice  to  produce  hesitation.  Our 
knowledge  of  circumstances  has  in- 
creased, but  our  uncertainty,  instead  of 
having  diminished,  has  only  increased. 
The  reason  of  this  is,  that  we  do  not  gain 
all  our  experience  at  once,  but  by  de- 
grees ;  so  our  determinations  continue  to 
be  assailed  incess€intly  by  fresh  experi- 
ence ;  and  the  mind,  if  we  may  use  the 
expression,  must  always  be  under  arms. 

Now,  if  it  is  to  get  safely  through  this 
perpetual  conflict  with  the  unexpected, 
two  qualities  are  indispensable:  in  the  first 
place  an  understanding  which,  even  in 
the  midst  of  this  intense  obscurity,  is 
not  without  some  traces  of  inner  light, 
which  lead  to  the  truth,  and  then  the 
courage  to  follow  this  faint  light.  The 
first  is  figuratively  expressed  by  the 
French  phrase  coup  (Tml,  The  other 
is  resolution.  As  the  battle  is  the  feature 
in  WBX  to  which  attention  was  originally 
chiefly  directed,  and  as  time  and  space  are 
important  elements  in  it,  and  were  more 
particularly  so  when  cavalry  with  their 
rapid  decisions  were  the  chief  arm,  the 
idea  of  rapid  and  correct  decision  related 
in  the  first  instance  to  the  estimation  of 
these  two  elements,  and  to  denote  the 
idea  an  expression  was  adopted  which 
actually  only  points  to  a  correct  judg- 
ment by  eye.  Many  teachers  of  the  art 
of  war  also  then  gave  this  limited  signifi- 
cation as  the  definition  of  coup  d^cBtl. 
But  it  is  undeniable  that  all  able  de- 
cisions formed  in  the  moment  of  action 
soon  came  to  be  tmderstood  by  the  ex- 
pression, as  for  instance  the  hitting  upon 
the  right  point  of  attack,  etc.  It  is, 
therefore,  not  only  the  physical,  but  more 
frequently  the  mental  eye  which  is  meant 



[book  I. 

in  e<mp  tTcnl.  Naturally,  the  ezpreesion, 
like  the  thing,  is  always  more  in  its  plaoe 
in  the  field  of  tactics  :  still,  it  must  not 
be  wanting  in  strategy,  inasmuch  as  in 
it  rapid  decisions  are  often  necessary. 
If  we  strip  this  conception  of  that  which 
the  expression  has  g^ven  it  of  the  over 
figurative  and  restricted,  then  it  amounts 
simply  to  the  rapid  discovery  of  a  truth, 
which  to  the  ordinary  mind  is  either  not 
visible  at  all  or  only  becomes  so  after 
long  examination  and  reflection. 

Besolution  is  an  act  of  courage  in 
single  instances,  and  if  it  becomes  a  cha- 
racteristic trait,  it  is  a  habit  of  the  mind. 
But  here  we  do  not  mean  courage  in 
face  of  bodily  danger,  but  in  face  of 
responsibility,  therefore  to  a  certain 
extent  against  moral  danger.  This  has 
been  often  called  courage  d*e9pritf  on  the 
ground  that  it  springs  from  the  under- 
standing; nevertheless,  it  is  no  act  of 
the  understanding  on  that  account ; 
it  is  an  act  of  feeling.  Mere  intelli- 
gence is  still  not  courage,  for  we 
often  see  the  cleverest  people  devoid  of 
resolution.  The  mind  must,  therefore, 
first  awaken  the  feeling  of  courage,  and 
then  be  guided  and  supported  by  it, 
because  in  momentaiy  emergencies  the 
man  is  swayed  more  by  his  feelings  than 
his  thoughts. 

We  have  assigned  to  resolution  the 
office  of  removing  the  torments  of  doubt, 
and  the  dangers  of  delay,  when  there  are  no 
sufficient  motives  for  guidance.  Through 
the  unscrupulous  use  of  language  which 
is  prevalent,  this  term  is  often  applied  to 
the  mere  propensity  to  daring,  to  bravery, 
boldness,  or  temerity.  But,  when  there 
are  sufficient  motives  in  the  man,  let  them 
bie  objective  or  subjective,  true  or  false, 
we  have  no  right  to  speak  of  his  resolu- 
tion ;  for,  when  we  do  so,  we  put  our- 
selves in  his  place,  and  we  throw  into  the 
scale  doubts  which  did  not  exist  with  him. 

Here,  there  is  no  question  of  anything 
but  of  strength  and  weakness.  We  are  not 
pedantic  enough  to  dispute  with  the  use 

of  language  about  this  little  misapplica- 
tion, our  observation  is  only  intended  to 
remove  wrong  objections. 

This  resolution  now,  which  overcomes 
the  state  of  doubting,  can  only  be  called 
forth  by  the  intellect  and  in  fact  by  a 
peculiar  tendency  of  the  same.  We 
maintain  that  the  mere  union  of  a  su- 
perior understanding  and  the  neces- 
sary feelings  are  not  sufficient  to  make 
up  resolution.  There  are  persons  who 
possess  the  keenest  perception  for  the 
most  difficult  problems,  who  are  also  not 
fearful  of  responsibilify,  and  yet  in  cases 
of  difficulty  cannot  come  to  a  resolution. 
Their  courage  and  their  sagacity  operate 
independendy  of  each  other,  do  not  give 
each  other  a  hand,  and  on  that  account 
do  not  produce  resolution  as  a  result. 
The  forerunner  of  resolution  is  an  act  of 
the  mind  making  evident  the  necessity 
of  venturing,  and  thus  influencing  the 
will.  This  quite  peculiar  direction  of  the 
mind,  which  conquers  every  other  fear  in 
man  by  the  fear  of  wavering  or  doubting, 
is  what  makes  np  resolution  in  strong 
minds:  therefore,  in  our  opinion,  men 
who  have  little  intelligence  can  never  be 
resolute.  They  may  act  without  hesita- 
tion under  perplexing  circumstances,  but 
then  they  act  without  reflection.  Now  of 
course,  when  a  man  acts  without  reflec- 
tion he  cannot  be  at  variance  with  him- 
self by  doubts,  and  such  a  mode  of  action 
may  now  and  then  lead  to  the  right  point; 
but  we  say  now  as  before,  it  is  the  average 
result  which  indicates  the  existence  of 
military  genius.  Should  our  assertion 
appear  extraordinary  to  any  one,  because 
he  knows  many  a  resolute  hussar-officer 
who  is  no  deep  thinker,  we  must  remind 
him  that  the  question  here  is  about  a 
peculiar  direction  of  the  mind,  and  not 
about  great  thinking  powers. 

We  believe,  therefore,  that  resolution 
is  indebted  to  a  special  direction  of  the 
mind  for  its  existence,  a  direction  which 
belongs  to  a  strong  head,  rather  than  to 
a  brmiant  one.       In  corroboration  of 

CHAP*  m.J 



this  genealogy  of  resolution  we  may  add 
that  there  have  been  many  inBtanoes  of 
men  who  have  shown  the  greatest  reso* 
lution  in  an  inferior  rank,  and  have  lost 
it  in  a  higher  position.  While  on  the 
one  hand  they  are  obliged  to  resolve,  on 
the  other  they  see  the  dangers  of  a 
wrong  decision,  and  as  they  are  sur- 
rounded with  things  new  to  them, 
their  understanding  loses  its  original 
force,  and  they  become  only  the  more 
timid  the  more  they  become  aware  of  the 
danger  of  the  irresolution  into  which 
they  have  fallen,  and  the  more  they  have 
formerly  been  in  the  habit  of  acting  on 
the  spur  of  the  moment. 

From  the  coup  tTcsil  and  resolution, 
we  are  naturally  led  to  speak  of  its 
kindred  quality,  presence  of  mind^  which 
in  a  region  of  the  unexpected  like 
war  must  act  a  great  part,  for  it  is  indeed 
nothing  but  a  great  conquest  over  the 
unexpected.  As  we  admire  presence 
of  mind  in  a  pithy  answer  to  anything 
said  unexpectedly,  so  we  admire  it  in  a 
ready  expedient  on  sudden  danger. 
Neither  the  answer  nor  the  expedient 
need  be  in  themselves  extraordinary,  if 
they  only  hit  the  point ;  for  that  which  as 
the  result  of  mature  reflection  would  be 
nothing  unusual,  therefore  insignificant 
in  its  impression  on  us,  may  as  an  instanta* 
neous  act  of  the  mind  produce  a  pleasing 
impression.  The  expression  '^  presence 
of  mind"  certainly  denotes  very  fitly  the 
readiness  and  rapidity  of  the  help  ren- 
dered by  the  mind. 

Whether  this  noble  quality  of  a  man 
is  to  be  ascribed  more  to  the  peculiarity 
of  his  mind  or  to  the  equanimity  of 
his  feelings,  depends  on  l3ie  nature  of 
the  case,  although  neither  of  the  two  can 
be  entirely  wanting.  A  telling  repartee 
bespeaks  rather  a  ready  wit,  a  ready  ex- 
pedient on  sudden  danger  implies  more 
particularly  a  well-balanced  mind. 

If  we  take  a  general  view  of  the  four 
elements  composing  the  atmosphere  in 
which  war  moves,    of  danger^   physical 

efforts^  uncertainty^  and  ^nce^  it  is  easy  to 
conceive  that  a  great  force  of  mind  and 
understanding  are  requisite  to  be  able  to 
make  way  with  safety  and  success  amongst 
such  opposing  elements,  a  force  which, 
according  to  the  difEerent  modifications 
arising  out  of  circumstances,  we  find 
termed  by  military  writers  and  annalists 
as  energy y  firmness^  staunehnesSf  strength  of 
mind  and  character.  All  these  manifes- 
tations of  the  heroic  nature  might  be  re- 
garded as  one  and  the  same  power  of 
volition,  modified  according  to  circum- 
stances; but  nearly  related  as  these 
things  are  to  each  other,  still  they  are 
not  one  and  the  same,  and  it  is  desirable 
for  us  to  disting^sh  here  a  little  more 
closely  at  least  the  action  of  the  powers 
of  the  soul  in  relation  to  them. 

In  the  first  place,  to  make  the  concep- 
tion dear,  it  is  essential  to  observe  that 
the  weight,  burden,  resistance,  or  what- 
ever it  may  be  called,  by  which  that  force 
of  the  soul  in  the  general  is  brought  to 
light,  is  only  in  a  very  small  measure  the 
enemy's  activity,  the  enemy's  resistance, 
the  enemy's  action  directly.  The  enemy's 
activity  only  affects  the  general  directly  in 
the  first  place  in  relation  to  his  person, 
without  disturbing  his  action  as  com- 
mander. If  the  enemy,  instead  of  two 
hours,  resists  for  four,  the  commander 
instead  of  two  hours  is  four  hours  in 
danger ;  this  is  a  quantity  which  plainly 
diminiahes  the  higher  the  rank  of  the 
commander.  What  is  it  for  one  in  the 
post  of  commander-in-chief?  It  is 

8econdly,althoughthe  opposition  offered 
by  the  enemy  has  a  direct  effect  on  the 
commander  through  the  loss  of  means  aris- 
ing from  prolonged  resistance,  and  the 
responsibility  connected  with  that  loss, 
and  his  force  of  will  is  first  tested  and 
called  forth  by  these  anxious  considera- 
tions ;  still  we  maintain  that  this  is  not  the 
heaviest  burden  by  far  which  he  has  to 
bear,  because  he  has  only  himself  to  settle 
with.    All  the  other  effects  of  the  enemy's 



[book  r. 

resistance  act  directly  upon  the  combat- 
ants under  his  command,  and  through 
them  re- act  upon  him. 

As  long  as  a  troop  full  of  good  courage 
fights  with  zeal  and  spirit,  it  is  seldom 
necessary  for  the  chief  to  show  great 
energy  of  purpose  in  the  pursuit  of  his 
object.  But,  as  soon  as  difficulties  arise 
— and  that  must  always  happen  when 
great  results  are  at  stake — ^then  things 
no  longer  move  on  of  themselves  like  a 
well-oiled  machine,  the  machine  itself 
then  begins  to  oifer  resistance,  and  to 
overcome  this,  the  commander  must  have 
a  great  force  of  wilL  By  this  resistance, 
we  must  not  exactly  suppose  disobedience 
and  murmurs,  although  these  are  frequent 
enough  with  particular  individuals  ;  it  is 
the  whole  feeling  of  the  dissolution 
of  aU  physical  and  moral  power,  it  is 
the  heart-rending  sight  of  the  bloody 
sacrifice  which  the  commander  has  to 
contend  with  in  himself  and  then,  in  all 
others  who  directly  or  indirectly  transfer 
to  him  their  impressions,  feelings,  anxie- 
tiei^  and  desires.  As  the  forces  in  one  indi- 
vidual after  another  become  prostrated, 
and  can  no  longer  be  excited  and  sup- 
ported by  an  effort  of  his  own  will,  the 
whole  inertia  of  the  mass  gradually  rests 
its  weight  on  the  will  of  the  commander : 
by  the  spark  in  his  breast,  by  the  light  of 
his  spirit,  the  spark  of  purposes,  the  light 
of  hope  must  be  kindled  afresh  in  others : 
in  so  far  only  as  he  is  equal  to  this,  he 
stands  above  the  masses,  and  continues 
to  be  their  master ;  whenever  that  influ- 
ence ceases  and  his  own  spirit  is  no  longer 
strong  enough  to  revive  the  spirit  of  all 
others,  the  masses  drawing  him  down 
with  them  sink  into  the  lower  region  of 
animal  nature,  which  shrinks  £rom  danger 
and  knows  not  shame.  These  are  the 
weights  which  the  courage  and  intelligent 
faculties  of  the  military  commander  have 
to  overcome,  if  he  is  to  make  his  name 
illustrious.  They  increase  with  the  masses, 
and,  therefore,  if  the  forces  in  question 
are  to  continue  equal  to  the  burden,  thoy 

must  rise  in  proportion  to  the  height  of 
the  station. 

Energy  in  action  expresses  the  strength 
of  the  motive  through  which  the  action 
is  excited,  let  the  motive  have  its  origin 
in  a  conviction  of  the  understanding,  or 
in  an  impulse.  But  the  latter  can  hardly 
ever  be  wanting  where  great  force  is  to 
show  itself. 

Of  all  the  noble  feelings  which  fill 
the  human  heart  in  the  exciting  tu- 
mult of  battle,  none,  we  must  ad- 
mit, are  so  powerful  and  constant  as 
the  soul's  thirst  for  honour  and  renown, 
which  the  German  language  treats  so 
unfairly,  and  tends  to  depreciate  by 
the  unworthy  associations  in  the  words 
Ehrgeiz  (g^eed  of  honour)  and  Ruhmmeht 
(hankering  after  glory).  No  doubt  it  is 
just  in  war  that  the  abuse  of  these  proud 
aspirations  of  the  soul  must  bring  upon 
the  human  race  the  most  shocking 
outrages;  but  by  their,  origin,  they 
are  certainly  to  be  counted  amongst  the 
noblest  feelings  which  belong  to  human 
nature,  and  in  war  they  are  the  vivifying 
principle  which  gives  the  enormous  body 
a  spirit.  Although  other  feelings  may  be 
more  general  in  their  influence,  and  many 
of  them — such  as  love  of  country,  fa- 
naticism, revenge,  enthusiasm  of  every 
kind — may  seem  to  stand  higher,  the 
thirst  for  honour  and  renown  still  re- 
mains indispensable.  Those  other  feel- 
ings may  rouse  the  great  masses  in 
general,  and  excite  them  more  power- 
fully, but  they  do  not  give  the  leader 
a  desire  to  will  more  than  others, 
which  is  an  essential  requisite  in  his 
position,  if  he  is  to  make  himself  dis- 
tinguished in  it.  They  do  not,  like  a 
thirst  fdr  honour,  make  the  military  act 
specially  the  property  of  the  leader,  which 
he  strives  to  turn  to  the  best  account ; 
where  he  ploughs  with  toil,  sows  with 
care,  that  he  may  reap  plentifully.  It  is 
through  these  aspirations  we  have  been 
spealuDg  of  in  commanders,  from  the 
highest  to  the  lowest,  this  sort  of  energy, 

CHAP,  m.] 



this  spirit  of  emulation,  these  incentives, 
that  the  action  of  armies  is  chiefly  ani- 
mated and  made  successful.  And  now 
as  to  that  which  specially  concerns  the 
head  of  all,  we  ask,  Has  there  ever  been 
a  great  commander  destitute  of  the  love 
of  honour,  or  is  such  a  character  even 
conceivable  ? 

Firmness  denotes  the  resistance  of  the 
will  in  relation  to  the  force  of  a  single 
blow,  staunchness  in  relation  to  a  con- 
tinuance of  blows.  Close  as  is  the  ana- 
logy between  the  two,  and  often  as  the 
one  is  used  in  place  of  the  other,  still 
there  is  a  notable  difference  between 
them  which  cannot  be  mistaken,  inas- 
much as  firmness  against  a  single  power- 
ful impression  may  have  its  root  in  the 
mere  strength  of  a  feeling,  but  staunch- 
ness must  be  supported  rather  by  the 
understanding,  for  the  greater  the  dura- 
tion of  an  action  the  more  systematic 
deliberation  is  connected  with  it,  and 
&om  this  staunchness  partly  derives  its 

K  we  now  turn  to  strength  of  mind  or 
soulf  then  the  first  question  is,  What  are 
we  to  imderstand  thereby  ? 

Plainly  it  is  not  vehement  expressions 
of  feeling,  nor  easily  excited  passions,  for 
that  woiild  be  contrary  to  all  the  usage  of 
language  ;  but  the  power  of  listening  to 
reason  in  the  midst  of  the  most  intense 
excitement,  in  the  storm  of  the  most  vio- 
lent passions.  Shoidd  this  power  depend 
on  strength  of  understanding  alone  ?  We 
doubt  it.  The  fact  that  there  are  men 
of  the  greatest  intellect  who  cannot  com- 
mand themselves,  certainly  proves  no- 
thing to  the  contrary ;  for  we  might  say 
that  it  perhaps  requires  an  imderstand- 
ing  of  a  powerful  rather  than  of  a  com- 
prehensive nature :  but  we  believe  we 
shaU  be  nearer  the  truth  if  we  assume 
that  the  power  of  submitting  oneself  to 
the  control  of  the  understanding,  even 
in  moments  of  the  most  violent  excite- 
ment of  the  feelings,  that  power  which 
we  call  sel/'Command,  has  its  root  in  the 

heart  itself.  It  is,  in  point  of  fact, 
another  feeling,  which,  in  strong  minds 
balances  the  excited  passions  without 
destroying  them  ;  and  it  is  only  through 
this  equilibrium  that  the  mastery  of  the 
imderstanding  is  secured.  This  counter- 
poise is  nothing  but  a  sense  of  the  dig- 
nity of  man,  that  noblest  pride,  that 
deeply-seated  desire  of  the  soul,  always 
to  act  as  a  being  endued  with  under- 
standing and  reason.  We  may,  there- 
fore, say  that  a  strong  mind  is  one  which 
does  not  lose  its  balance  even  under  the 
most  violent  excitement. 

If  we  cast  a  glance  at  the  variety  to  be 
observed  in  the  human  character  in 
respect  to  feeling,  we  find,  first,  some 
people  who  have  very  little  excitability, 
who  are  called  phlegmatic  or  indolent. 

Secondly,  some  very  excitable,  but 
whose  feelings  still  never  overstep  certain 
limits,  and  who  are  therefore  known  as 
men  full  of  feeling,  but  sober-minded. 

Thirdly,   those   who    are  very  easily 
roused,  whose  feelings  blaze  up  quickly  u^au 
and  violently  like  gunpowder,  but  do  not 

Fourthly,  and  lastly,  those  who  cannot 
be  moved  by  slight  causes,  and  who  gene- 
rally are  not  to  be  roused  suddenly,  but 
only  gradually;  but  whose  feelings  be- 
come very  powerful,  and  are  much  more 
lasting.  These  are  men  with  strong 
passions,  l3ring  deep  and  latent. 

This  difference  of  character  lies,  pro- 
bably, close  on  the  confines  of  the  phy- 
sical powers  which  move  the  human  organ- 
ism, and  belongs  to  that  amphibious 
organisation  which  we  call  the  nervous 
system,  which  appears  to  be  partly  mate- 
rial, partly  spiritual.  With  our  weak 
philosophy,  we  shall  not  proceed  farther 
in  this  mysterious  field.  But  it  is  im- 
portant for  us  to  sx)end  a  moment  over 
the  effects  which  these  different  natures 
have  on  action  in  war,  and  to  see  how  far 
a  great  strength  of  mind  is  to  be  expected 
from  them. 

Indolent  men  cannot  easily  be  thrown 


0^  WAR. 

[book  I. 

ont  of  their  equanimity ;  but  we  cannot 
certainly  say  there  is  strong^  of  mind 
where  there  is  a  want  of  all  manifesta* 
tion  of  power.  At  the  same  time  it  is 
not  to  be  denied  that  such  men  have  a 
certain  peculiar  aptitude  for  war,  on  ac- 
count of  their  constant  equanimity.  They 
often  want  the  positive  motiye  to  action, 
impulse,  and  consequently  activity,  but 
they  are  not  apt  to  throw  things  into 

The  peculiarity  of  the  second  dass  is, 
that  they  are  easily  excited  to  act  on 
trifling  grounds;  but  in  g^at  matters 
they  are  easily  overwhelmed.  Men  of 
this  kind  show  great  activity  in  helping 
an  unfortunate  individual;  but  by  the 
distress  of  a  whole  nation  they  are  only 
inclined  to  despond,  not  roused  to  action. 

Such  people  are  not  deficient  in  either 
activity  or  equanimity  in  war ;  but  they 
will  never  accomplish  anything  great 
unless  a  g^eat  intellectual  force  fdmishes 
the  motive,  and  it  is  very  seldom  that  a 
strong,  independent  mind  is  combined 
with  such  a  character. 

Excitable,  inflammable  feelings,  are  in 
themselves  little  suited  for  practical  life, 
and  therefore  they  are  not  very  fit  for 
war.  They  have  certainly  the  advantage 
of  strong  impulses,  but  that  cannot  long 
sustain  them.  At  the  same  time,  if  the 
excitability  in  such  men  takes  the  direc- 
tion of  courage,  or  a  sense  of  honour; 
they  may  often  be  very  useful  in  inferior 
positions  in  war,  because  the  action  in 
war  over  which  commanders  in  inferior 
positions  have  control,  is  generally  of 
shorter  duration-  Here  one  courageous 
resolution,  one  effervescence  of  the  forces 
of  the  soul,  will  often  suffice.  A  brave 
attack,  a  soul-stirring  hurrah,  is  the  work 
of  a  few  moments ;  whilst  a  brave  contest 
on  the  battle-field  is  the  work  of  a  day, 
and  a  campaign  the  work  of  a  year. 

Owing  to  the  rapid  movement  of  their 
feelings,  it  is  doubly  difficult  for  men 
of  this  description  to  preserve  the  equi- 
librium of   the    mind;    therefore    they 

frequently  lose  head,  and  that  is  the 
worst  phase  in  their  nature  ae^  respects 
the  conduct  of  war.  But  it  would  be 
contrary  to  experience  to  maintain  that 
very  excitable  spirits  can  never  preserve 
a  steady  equilibrium,  that  is,  to  say  that 
they  cannot  do  so  even  under  the  strongest 
excitement  Why  should  they  not  have 
the  sentiment  of  self-respect,  for,  as  a 
nde,  they  are  men  of  a  noble  nature  ? 
This  feeling  is  seldom  wanting  in  them, 
but  it  has  not  time  to  produce  an  efiPect. 
After  an  outburst  they  suffer  most  from  a 
feeling  of  inward  humiliation.  If  through 
education,  self-observance,  and  experi- 
ence of  life,  they  have  learned,  sooner  or 
later,  the  means  of  being  on  their  guard, 
so  that  at  the  moment  of  powerful  excite- 
ment they  are  conscious,  betimes,  of  the 
counteracting  force  within  their  own 
breasts,  then  even  such  men  may  have 
great  strength  of  mind. 

Lastly,  those  who  are  difficult  to  move, 
but  on  that  account  susceptible  of  very 
deep  feelings  ;  men  who  stand  in  the 
same  relation  to  the  preceding  as  red  heat 
to  a  flame  are  the  best  adapted  by  means 
of  their  Titanic  strength  to  roll  away  the 
enormous  masses,  by  which  we  may  figu- 
ratively represent  the  difficulties  which 
beset  command  in  war.  The  effect  of 
their  feelings  is  like  the  movement  of  a 
g^reat  body,  slower,  but  more  irresistible. 

Although  such  men  are  not  so  likely  to 
be  suddenly  surprised  by  their  feelings 
and  carried  away,  so  as  to  be  afterwards 
ashamed  of  themselves  like  the  preceding, 
still  it  would  be  contrary  to  experience  to 
believe  that  they  can  never  lose  their 
equanimity,  or  be  overcome  by  blind  pas- 
sion ;  on  Uie  contrary,  this  must  always 
happen  whenever  the  noble  pride  of 
self-control  is  wanting,  or  as  often  as  it 
has  not  sufficient  weight  We  see  exam- 
ples of  this  most  frequently  in  men  of 
noble  minds  belonging  to  savage  nations, 
where  the  low  degree  of  mental  cultiva- 
tion favours  always  the  dominance  of  the 
passions.    But  even  amongst  the  most 

CHAP.  lU.] 



civilised  classes  in  civilised  states,  life  is 
full  of  examples  of  this  kind — of  men 
carried  away  by  the  yiolence  of  their 
passions,  like  the  poacher  of  old  chained 
to  the  stAg  in  the  forest. 

We,  therefore,  say  once  more  a  strong 
mind  is  not  one  that  is  merely  suscep- 
tible of  strong  excitement,  but  one  which 
can  maintain  its  serenity  under  the  most 
powerful  excitement ;  so  that,  in  spite  of 
the  storm  in  the  breast,  the  perception 
and  judgment  can  act  with  perfect  free- 
dom, like  the  needle  of  the  compass  in 
the  storm-tossed  ship. 

By  the  term  strength  of  eharaeteTj  or 
simply  character,  is  denoted  tenacity  of 
conyiction,  let  it  be  the  result  of  our  own 
or  of  others'  views,  and  whether  they  are 
principles,  opinions,  momentary  inspira- 
tions, or  any  kind  of  emanations  of  the 
understanduig ;  but  this  kind  of  firmness 
certainly  cannot  manifest  itself  if  the 
views  themselves  are  subject  to  frequent 
change.  This  frequent  change  need  not 
be  the  consequence  of  external  influences ; 
it  may  proceed  from  the  continuous  acti- 
vity of  our  own  mind,  in  which  case  it 
indicates  a  characteristic  unsteadiness  of 
mind.  Evidently  we  should  not  say  of  a 
man  who  changes  his  views  every  moment, 
however  much  the  motives  of  change  may 
originate  with  himself,  that  he  has  cha- 
racter. Only  those  men  therefore  can  be 
said  to  have  this  quality  whose  conviction 
is  very  constant,  either  because  it  is 
deeply  rooted  and  dear  in  itself,  little 
liable  to  alteration,  or  because,  as  in  the 
case  of  indolent  men,  there  is  a  want  of 
mental  activity,  and  therefore  a  want  of 
motives  to  change ;  or  lastly,  because  an 
explicit  act  of  the  will,  derived  from  an 
imperative  maxim  of  the  understanding, 
recuses  any  change  of  opinion  up  to  a 
certain  point. 

Now  in  war,  owing  to  the  many  and 
powerful  impressions  to  which  the  mind 
IS  exposed,  and,  in  the  uncertainty  of  all 
knowledge  and  of  all  science,  more  things 
occur  to  distract  a  man  from  the  road  he 

has  entered  upon,  to  make  him  doubt 
himself  and  others,  than  in  any  other 
human  activity. 

The  harrowing  sight  of  danger  and 
suffering  easily  leads  to  the  feelings  gain- 
ing ascendancy  over  the  conviction  of  the 
understanding ;  and  in  the  twilight  which 
surrounds  everything,  a  deep  clear  view 
is  so  difficult,  that  a  change  of  opinion  is 
more  conceivable  and  more  pardonable. 
It  is,  at  all  times,  only  conjecture  or 
guesses  at  truth  which  we  have  to  act 
upon.  This  is  why  differences  of  opin- 
ion are  nowhere  so  great  as  in  war, 
and  the  stream  of  impressions  acting 
counter  to  one's  own  convictions  never 
ceases  to  flow.  Even  the  greatest  impas- 
sibility of  mind  is  hardly  proof  against 
them,  because  the  impressions  are  power- 
ful in  their  nature,  and  always  act  at  the 
same  time  upon  the  feelings. 

When  the  discernment  is  clear  and 
deep,  none  but  general  principles  and 
views  of  action  from  a  high  standpoint 
can  be  the  restdt ;  and  on  these  principles 
the  opinion  in  each  particular  case  im- 
mediately under  consideration  lies,  as  it 
were,  at  anchor.  But  to  keep  to  these 
results  of  bygone  reflection  in  opposi- 
tion to  the  stream  of  opinions  and 
phenomena  which  the  present  brings 
with  it  is  just  the  difficulty.  Between 
the  particular  case  and  the  principle 
there  is  often  a  wide  space  which  can- 
not always  be  traversed  on  a  visible 
chain  of  conclusions,  and  where  a  certain 
faith  in  self  is  necessary,  and  a  certain 
amount  of  scepticism  is  serviceable. 
Here  often  nothing  else  will  help  us  but 
an  imperative  maxim  which,  independent 
of  reflection,  at  once  controls  it:  that 
maxim  is,  in  all  doubtful  cases  to  adhere 
to  the  first  opinion,  and  not  to  give  it  up 
until  a  clear  conviction  forces  us  to  do  so. 
We  must  firmly  believe  in  the  superior 
authority  of  well-tried  maxims,  and 
under  the  dazzlinginfluence  of  momentary 
events  not  forget  that  their  value  is  of 
an  inferior  stamp.    By  this  preference 



[book  I. 

which  in  douhtful  cases  we  gLveto first  con- 
victions, by  adherence  to  the  same  our  ac- 
tions acquire  that  stability  and  consistency 
which  make  up  what  is  called  character. 

It  is  easy  to  see  how  essential  a  well- 
balanced  mind  is  to  strength  of  character ; 
therefore,  men  of  strong  minds  generally 
have  a  g^at  deal  of  character. 

Force  of  character  leads  us  to  a  spurious 
variety  of  it-^ohstinaey. 

It  is  often  very  difficult  in  concrete 
cases  to  say  where  the  one  ends  and  the 
other  begins  ;  on  the  other  hand,  it  does 
not  seem  difficult  to  determine  the  differ- 
ence in  idea. 

Obstinacy  is  no  fault  of  the  under- 
standing ;  we  use  the  term  as  denoting  a 
resistance  against  our  better  judgment, 
and  it  would  be  inconsistent  to  charge  that 
to  the  understanding,  as  the  understand- 
ing is  the  power  of  judgment.  Obstinacy 
is  a  fault  of  the  feelings  or  heart.  This 
inflexibility  of  will,  this  impatience  of 
contradiction,  have  their  origin  only  in 
a  particular  kind  of  egotism,  which 
sets  above  every  other  pleasure  that 
of  governing  both  self  and  others  by 
its  own  mind  alone.  We  should  call  it 
a  kind  of  vanity  were  it  not  decidedly 
something  better.  Vanity  is  satisfied 
with  mere  show,  but  obstinacy  rests 
upon  the  enjoyment  of  the  thing. 

We  say  therefore,  force  of  character 
degenerates  into  obstinacy  whenever  the 
resistance  to  opposing  judgment  proceeds 
not  from  better  convictions  or  a  reliance 
upon  a  more  trustworthy  maxim,  but 
from  a  feeling  of  opposition.  If  this  de- 
finition, as  we  have  already  admitted,  is 
of  little  assistance  practically,  still  it  will 
prevent  obstinacy  from  being  considered 
merely  force  of  character  intensified, 
whilst  it  is  something  essentially  different 
— something  which  certainly  lies  dose  to 
it  and  is  cognate  to  it,  but  is  at  the  same 
time  so  little  an  intensification  of  it  that 
there  are  very  obstinate  men  who,  from 
want  of  understanding,  have  very  little 
force  of  character. 

Having  in  these  high  attributes  of  a 
great  military  commander  made  ourselves 
acquainted  with  those  qualities  in  which 
heart  and  head  co-operate,  we  now  come 
to  a  speciality  of  military  activity  which 
perhaps  may  be  looked  upon  as  the  most 
marked  if  it  is  not  the  most  import- 
ant, and  which  only  makes  a  demand 
on  the  power  of  the  mind,  without  regard 
to  the  forces  of  feelings.  It  is  the  con- 
nection which  exists  between  war  and 
country  or  ground. 

This  connection  is,  in  the  first  place,  a 
permanent  condition  of  war,  for  it  is  im- 
possible to  imagine  our  organised  armies 
effecting  any  operation  otherwise  than  in 
some  given  space  ;  it  is,  secondly,  of  the 
most  decisive  importance,  because  it  modi- 
fies, at  times  completely  alters,  the  action 
of  all  forces ;  thirdly,  while  on  the  one 
hand  it  often  concerns  the  most  minute 
features  of  locality,  on  the  other,  it  may 
apply  to  immense  tracts  of  country. 

In  this  manner  a  great  peculiarity  is 
given  to  the  effect  of  this  connection 
of  war  with  country  and  ground.  If  we 
think  of  other  occupations  of  man  which 
have  a  relation  to  these  objects,  on  hor- 
ticulture, agriculture,  on  building  houses 
and  hydraulic  works,  on  mining,  on  the 
chase,  and  forestry,  they  are  all  confined 
within  very  limited  spaces  which  may  be 
soon  explored  with  sufficient  exactness. 
But  the  commander  in  war  must  commit 
the  business  he  has  in  hand  to  a  corre- 
sponding space  which  his  eye  cannot  sur^ 
vey,  which  the  keenest  zeal  cannot  always 
explore,  and  with  which,  owing  to  the 
constant  changes  taking  place,  he  can 
also  seldom  become  properly  acquainted. 
Certainly  the  enemy  generally  is  in  the 
same  situation ;  stiU,  in  the  first  place, 
the  difficulty,  although  common  to  both, 
is  not  the  less  a  difficulty,  and  he  who  by 
talent  and  practice  overcomes  it  will 
have  a  great  advantage  on  his  side ;  se* 
condly,  this  equality  of  the  difficulty  on 
both  sides  is  merely  an  abstract  supposi^ 
tion  which  is  rarely  realised  in  the  par- 

cttAP.  ni.] 



ticular  case,  as  one  of  the  two  opponents 
(the  defensive)  usoallj  knows  much  more 
of  the  locality  than  his  adversary. 

This  very  peculiar  difficulty  must  be 
overcome  by  a  natural  mental  gift  of  a 
special  kind  which  is  known  by  the — 
too  restricted — term  of  {OrUinrC)  sense  of 
locality.  It  is  the  power  of  quickly  form- 
ing a  correct  geometrical  idea  of  any 
portion  of  country  and  consequently  of 
being  able  to  find  one's  place  in  it  exactly 
at  any  time.  This  is  plainly  an  act  of 
the  imagination.  The  perception  no 
doubt  is  formed  partly  by  means  of  the 
physical  eye,  paHly  by  the  mind,  which 
fills  up  what  is  wanting  with  ideas  derived 
from  Knowledge  and  experience,  and  out 
of  the  fragments  visible  to  the  physical 
eye  forms  a  whole ;  but  that  this  whole 
should  present  itself  vividly  to  the  reason, 
should  become  a  picture,  a  mentally 
drawn  map,  that  this  picture  should  be 
fixed,  that  the  details  should  never  again 
separate  themselves — all  that  can  only  be 
effected  by  the  mental  faculty  which  we 
call  imagination.  If  some  great  Poet  or 
Painter  should  feel  hurt  that  we  require 
from  his  goddess  such  an  office ;  if  he 
shrugs  his  shoulders  at  the  notion  that  a 
sharp  gamekeeper  must  necessarily  excel 
in  imag^ation,  we  readily  grant  that  we 
oi  Jy  speak  here  of  imagination  in  a  limited 
sense,  of  its  service  in  a  really  menial  ca- 
pacity. But  however  slight  this  service, 
still  it  must  be  the  work  of  that  natural 
gift,  for  if  that  gifb  is  wanting,  it  would 
be  difficult  to  imagine  things  plainly  in 
all  the  completeness  of  the  visible.  That 
a  good  memory  is  a  great  assistance 
we  freely  allow;  but  whether  memoiy 
is  to  be  considered  as  an  independent 
faculty  of  the  mind  in  this  case,  or  whether 
it  is  just  that  power  of  imagination  which 
here  fixes  these  things  better  on  the 
memory,  we  leave  undecided,  as  in  many 
respects  it  seems  difficult  upon  the  whole 
to  conceive  these  two  mental  powers  apart 
from  each  other. 

That  practice  and    mental  acuteness 

have  much  to  do  with  it,  is  not  to  bo 
denied.  Puysegur,  the  famous  Quarter- 
master-Oeneral  of  the  famous  Luxem- 
burgh,  used  to  say  that  he  had  very  little 
confidence  in  himself  in  this  respect  at 
first,  because  if  he  had  to  fetch  the  Pa- 
role from  a  distance  he  always  lost  his 

It  is  natural  that  scope  for  the  exer- 
cise of  this  talent  should  increase  along 
with  rank.  If  the  Hussar  and  Kiflemen 
in  command  of  a  patrol,  must  know  well 
all  the  highways  and  by-ways,  and  if  for 
that  a  few  marks,  a  few  limited  powers  of 
observation  are  sufficient ;  so  on  the 
other  hand  the  Chief  of  an  army  must 
make  himself  familiar  with  the  general 
geographical  features  of  a  Province  and 
of  a  Country ;  must  always  have  vividly 
before  his  eyes  the  direction  of  the 
roads,  rivers,  and  hills,  without  at  the 
same  time  being  able  to  dispense  with 
the  narrower  **  sense  of  locality"  (Ort- 
sinn).  No  doubt  information  of  various 
kinds  as  to  objects  in  general.  Maps, 
Books,  Memoirs,  and  for  details  the 
assistance  of  his  Staff,  are  a  great  help 
to  him;  but  it  is  nevertheless  certain 
that  if  he  has  himself  a  talent  for  form- 
ing an  ideal  picture  of  a  country  quickly 
and  distinctly,  it  lends  to  his  action  an 
easier  and  firmer  step,  saves  him  from  a 
certain  mental  helplessness,  and  makes 
him  less  dependent  on  others. 

If  this  talent  then  is  to  be  ascribed  to 
imagination,  it  is  also  almost  the  only 
service  which  military  activity  requires 
from  that  erratic  goddess  whose  influence 
is  more  hurtful  than  useful  in  other  re- 

We  think  we  have  now  passed  in  re- 
view those  manifestations  of  the  powers 
of  mind  and  soul  which  military  activity 
requires  from  human  nature.  Everywhere 
Intellect  appears  as  an  essential  co-opera- 
tive force ;  and  thus  we  can  Understand 
how  the  work  of  war,  although  so  plain 
and  simple  in  its  effects,  can  never 
be  conducted  with  distinguished  succoss 



[book  I. 

by  people  without  distinguiBhed  powers 
of  the  underBtanding. 

When  we  have  reached  this  view,  then 
we  need  no  longer  look  upon  such  a 
natural  thing  as  the  turning  an  enemy's 
position,  which  has  been  done  a  thousand 
times,  and  a  hundred  other  such  like 
things,  as  the  result  of  a  great  effort  of 

Certainly  one  is  accustomed  to  regard 
the  plain  honest  soldier,  as  the  very 
opposite  of  the  man  of  reflection,  full  of 
inventions  and  ideas,  or  of  the  brilliant 
spirit  shining  in  the  ornaments  of  refined 
education  of  every  kind.  This  antithesis 
is  also  by  no  means  devoid  of  truth  ;  but 
it  does  not  show  that  the  efficiency  of  the 
soldier  consists  only  in  his  courage,  and 
that  there  is  no  particular  energy  and  ca- 
pacity of  the  brain  required  in  addition  to 
make  a  man  merely  what  is  called  a  true 
soldier.  We  must  again  repeat  that 
there  is  nothing  more  common  than  to 
hear  of  men  losing  their  energy  on  being 
raised  to  a  higher  position,  to  which  they 
do  not  feel  themselves  equal ;  but  we  must 
also  remind  our  readers  that  we  are 
speaking  of  pre-eminent  services,  of  such 
as  give  renown  in  the  branch  of  activity 
to  which  they  belong.  Each  grade  of 
command  in  War  therefore  forms  its 
own  stratum  of  requisite  capacity  of 
Fame  and  Honour. 

An  immense  space  lies  between  a 
general,  that  is,  one  at  the  head  of  a 
whole  war,  or  of  a  theatre  of  war,  and 
his  second  in  command,  for  the  simple 
reason  that  the  latter  is  in  more  imme- 
diate subordination  to  a  superior  autho- 
rity and  supervision,  consequently  is 
restricted  to  a  more  limited  sphere  of 
independent  thought.  This  is  why  com- 
mon opinion  sees  no  room  for  the  exercise 
of  high  talent  except  in  high  places,  and 
looks  upon  an  ordinary  capacity  as  suffi- 
cient for  all  beneath :  this  is  why  people 
are  rather  inclined  to  look  upon  a  sub- 
ordinate general  grown  grey  in  the  ser- 
vice, and  in  whom  con Hf ant  discharge  of 

routine  duties  has  produced  a  decided 
poverty  of  mind  as  a  man  of  failing  in- 
tellect; and,  with  all  respect  for  his 
bravery,  to  laugh  at  his  simplicity.  It 
is  not  our  object  to  gain  for  these  brave 
men  a  better  lot ;  that  would  contribute 
nothing  to  their  efficiency,  and  little  to 
their  happiness  ;  we  only  wish  to  repre- 
sent things  as  they  are,  and  to  expose 
the  error  of  believing  that  a  mere  bravo 
without  intellect  can  make  himself  dis- 
tinguished in  war. 

As  we  consider  distinguished  talents 
requisite  for  those  who  are  to  attain 
distinction,  even  in  inferior  positions,  it 
naturally  follows  that  we  think  highly 
of  those  who  fill  with  renown  the  place 
of  second  in  command  of  an  army ;  and 
their  seeming  simplicity  of  character  as 
compared  with  a  polylustor,  with  ready 
men  of  business,  or  with  Councillors 
of  State,  must  not  lead  us  astray  as  to 
the  superior  nature  of  their  intellec- 
tual activity.  It  happens,  sometimes, 
that  men  import  the  fame  gained  in  an 
inferior  position  into  a  higher  one,  with- 
out, in  reality,  deserving  it  in  the  new 
position  :  and  then  if  they  are  not  much 
employed,  and  therefore  not  much  exposed 
to  the  risk  of  showing  their  weak  points, 
the  judgment  does  not  distinguish  very 
exactly  what  degree  of  fame  is  really 
due  to  them;  and  thus  such  men  are 
often  the  occasion  of  too  low  an  estimate 
being  formed  of  the  characteristics  re- 
quired to  shine  in  certain  situations. 

For  each  station,  from  the  lowest  up- 
wards, to  render  distinguished  services  in 
war,  there  must  be  a  particular  genius. 
But  the  title  of  genius,  history  and  the 
judgment  of  posterity  only  confer,  in 
general,  on  those  minds  which  have  shone 
in  the  highest  rank,  that  of  commandci*s- 
in-chief.  The  reason  is  that  here,  in  point 
of  fact,  the  demand  on  the  reasoning  and 
intellectual  powers  generally  is  much 

To  conduct  a  whole  war,  or  its  great 
acts,  which  wo  call  campaigns,  to  a  sue- 




cessful  termination,  there  must  be  an 
intimate  knowledge  of  state  policy  in  its 
higher  relations.  The  conduct  of  the 
war,  and  the  policy  of  the  State,  here 
coincide;  and  the  general  becomes,  at 
the  same  time,  the  statesman. 

We  do  not  give  Charles  XII.  the  name 
of  a  great  genius,  because  he  could  not 
make  the  power  of  his  sword  subservient 
to  a  higher  judgment  and  philosophy — 
could  not  attain  by  it  to  a  glorious  ob- 
ject. We  do  not  give  that  title  to 
Henry  IV.,  because  he  did  not  live  long 
enough  to  set  at  rest  the  relations  of 
different  States  by  his  military  activity, 
and  to  occupy  himself  in  that  higher  field 
where  noble  feelings  and  a  chivalrous 
disposition  have  less  to  do  in  mastering 
the  enemy  than  in  overcoming  internal 
dissension.   • 

In  order  that  the  reader  may  appre- 
ciate all  that  must  be  comprehendea  and 
judged  of  correctly  at  a  glance  by  a 
general,  we  refer  to  the  first  chapter. 
We  say,  the  general  becomes  a  states- 
man, but  he  must  not  cease  to  be  the 
general.  He  takes  into  view  all  the 
relations  of  the  State  on  the  one  hand ; 
on  the  other  he  must  know  exactly  what 
he  can  do  with  the  means  at  his  dis- 

As  the  diversity  and  undefined  limits  of 
all  the  circumstances  bring  a  great  num- 
ber of  things  into  consideration  in  war, 
as  the  most  of  these  things  can  only  be 
estimated  according  to  probability,  there- 
fore if  the  chief  of  an  army  does  not 
bring  to  bear  upon  all  this  a  mind  with 
an  intuitive  perception  of  the  truth,  a 
confusion  of  ideas  and  views  must  take 
place,  in  the  midst  of  which  the  judgment 
will  become  bewildered.  In  this  sense 
Buonaparte  was  right  when  he  said  that 
many  of  the  questions  which  come  before 
a  general  for  decision  would  make  pro- 
blems for  a  mathematical  calculation,  not 
unworthy  of  the  powers  of  Newton  or 

What  is  here  required  &om  the  higher 

powers  of  the  mind  is  a  sense  of  unity,  and 
a  judgment  raised  to  such  a  compass  as  to 
give  the  mind  an  extraordinary  faculty  of 
vision,  which,  in  its  range,  allays  and  sets 
aside  a  thousand  dim  notions  which  an 
ordinary  understanding  could  only  bring 
to  light  with  g^eat  effort,  and  over  which 
it  would  exhaust  itself  But  this  higher 
activity  of  the  mind,  this  glance  of  genius 
would  still  not  become  matter  of  history 
if  the  qualities  of  temperament  and  cha- 
racter of  which  we  have  treated  did  not 
give  it  their  support. 

Truth  alone  is  but  a  weak  motive  of 
action  with  men,  and  hence  there  is 
always  a  g^eat  difference  between  know- 
ing and  wiUing,  between  science  and  art. 
The  man  receives  the  strongest  impulse 
to  action  through  the  feelings,  and  the 
most  powerful  succour,  if  we  may  use 
the  expression,  through  those  mixtures 
of  heart  and  mind,  which  we  have  made 
acquaintance  with,  as  resolution,  firm- 
ness,  perseverance,  and  force  of  cha- 

If,  however,  this  elevated  condition  of 
heart  and  mind  in  the  General  did  not 
manifest  itself  in  the  general  effects  re- 
sulting from  it,  and  could  only  be  accepted 
on  trust  and  faith,  then  it  would  rarely 
become  matter  of  history. 

All  that  becomes  known  of  the  course 
of  events  in  war  is  usually  very  simple, 
has  a  great  sameness  in  appearance  ;  no 
one  on  the  mere  relation  of  such  events 
perceives  the  difficulties  connected  with 
them  which  had  to  be  overcome.  It  is 
only  now  and  again  in  the  memoirs  of 
Generals,  or  of  &ose  in  their  confidence, 
or  by  reason  of  some  special  historical 
inquiry  directed  to  a  particular  circum- 
stance that  a  portion  of  the  many  threads 
composing  the  whole  web  is  brought  to 
light.  The  reflections,  mental  doubts 
and  conflicts  which  precede  the  execution 
of  great  acts  are  purposely  concealed  be- 
cause they  affect  political  interests,  or 
the  recollection  of  them  is  accidentally  lost 
because  they  have  been  looked  upon  as 



mere  scafifblding  which  had  to  be  removed 
on  the  completion  of  the  building. 

If,  now,  in  conclusion,  without  ventur- 
ing upon  a  closer  definition  of  the  higher 
powers  of  the  soul,  we  should  admit  a 
distinction  in  the  intelligent  faculties 
themselves  according  to  the  common 
ideas  established  by  language,  and  ask 
ourselves    what    kind   of  mind    comes 

[book  t, 

closest  to  military  genius  ?  then  a  look  at 
the  subject  as  well  as  at  experience  will 
tell  us  that  searching  rather  than  inventive 
minds,  comprehensive  minds  rather  than 
such  as  have  a  special  bent,  cool  rather  than 
fiery  heads  are  those  to  which  in  time  of 
war  we  should  prefer  to  trust  the  welfare 
of  our  brothers  and  children,  the  honour 
and  the  safety  of  our  fatherland. 


OF    DANGER    IN    WAK. 

UsTJALLY  before  we  have  learnt  what 
danger  really  is  we  form  an  idea  of  it 
which  ia  rather  attractive  than  repulsive. 
In  the  intoxication  of  enthusiasm,  to  fall 
upon  the  enemy  at  the  charge— who 
cares  then  about  bullets  and  men  falling  ? 
The  eyes  shut  for  a  moment,  to  throw 
oneself  against  cold  death,  uncertain 
whether  we  or  another  shall  escape  him, 
and  all  this  -close  to  the  golden  aim  of 
victory,  close  to  the  rich  fruit  which  am- 
bition thirsts  for — can  this  be  diflBcult  ? 
It  will  not  be  difficult,  and  still  less  will 
it  appear  so.  But  such  moments,  which, 
however,  are  not  the  work  of  a  single 
pulse-beat  as  is  supposed,  but  rather  like 
doctors'  draughts,  must  be  taken  diluted 
and  spoilt  by  mixture  with  time — such 
moments,  we  say,  are  but  few. 

Let  us  accompany  the  novice  to  the 
battle-field.  As  we  approach,  the  thunder 
of  the  cannon  becoming  plainer  and 
plainer  is  soon  follc)wed  by  the  howling  of 
shot,  which  attracts  the  attention  of  the 
inexperienced.  Balls  begin  to  strike  the 
ground  close  to  us,  before  and  behind. 
We  hasten  to  the  hill  where  stands  the 
General  and  his  numerous  Staff.  Here 
the  dose  striking  of  the  cannon  balls  and 

the  bursting  of  shells  is  so  frequent  that 
the  seriousness  of  life  makes  itself  visible 
through  the  youthful  picture  of  imagina- 
tion. Suddenly  some  one  known  to  us 
falls — a  shell  makes  its  way  into  the 
crowd  and  causes  some  involuntary  move- 
ments ;  we  begin  to  feel  that  we  are  no 
longer  perfectly  at  ease  and  collected, 
even  the  bravest  is  at  least  to  some  de- 
gree confused.  Now,  a  step  further  into 
the  battle  which  is  raging  before  us  like 
a  scene  in  a  theatre,  we  get  to  the  nearest 
General  of  Division;  here  ball  follows 
ball,  and  the  noise  of  our  own  guns  in- 
creases the  confusion.  From  the  General 
of  Division  to  the  Brigadier.  He  a  man 
of  acknowledged  bravery,  keeps  carefully 
behind  a  rising  ground,  a  house,  or  a 
tree — a  sure  sign  of  increasing  danger. 
Grape  rattles  on  the  roofs  of  the  houses 
and  in  the  fields ;  cannon  balls  howl 
over  us,  and  plough  the  air  in  all  direc- 
tions, and  soon  there  is  a  frequent  whist- 
ling of  musket  balls ;  a  step  further  to- 
wards the  troops,  to  that  sturdy  Infantry 
which  for  hours  has  meiintained  its  firm- 
ness under  this  heavy  fire ;  here  the  air 
is  filled  with  the  hissing  of  balls  which 
announce  their    proximity  by  a    short 




sharp  noise  as  they  pass  within  an  inch 
of  the  ear,  the  head,  or  the  breast. 

To  add  to  all  this,  compassion  strikes 
the  beating  heart  with  pity,  at  the  sight 
of  the  maimed  and  fallen.  The  young 
soldier  cannot  reach  any  of  these  different 
strata  of  danger,  without  feeling  that  the 
light  of  reason  does  not  move  here  in  the 
same  medium,  that  it  is  not  refi^acted  in 
the  same  manner  as  in  speculative  con* 
templation.  Indeed,  he  must  be  a  very 
extraordinary  man  who,  under  these  im- 
pressions for  the  first  time,  does  not  lose 
the  power  of  making  any  instantaneous 
decisions.  It  is  true  that  habit  soon 
blunts  such  impressions ;  in  half-an-hour 
we  begin  to  be  more  or  less  indifferent 
to  all  that  is  going  on  around  us  :  but  an 

ordinaiy  character  never  attains  to  com- 
plete coolness,  and  the  natural  eleusticity 
of  mind  ;  and  so  we  perceive  that 
here,  again,  ordinary  qualities  will  not 
suffice ;  a  thing  which  gains  truth,  the 
wider  the  sphere  of  activity  which  is  to 
be  filled.  Enthusiastic,  stoical,  natural 
bravery,  great  ambition,  or  also  long 
familiarity  with  danger,  much  of  all  this 
there  must  be  if  all  the  effects  produced 
in  this  resistant  medium  are  not  to  fall 
far  short  of  that  which,  in  the  student's 
chamber,  may  appear  only  the  ordinary 

Danger  in  war  belongs  to  its  fi'iction  ; 
a  correct  idea  of  it  is  necessary  for  truth 
of  perception,  and  therefore  it  is  brought 
under  notice  here. 



If  no  one  was  allowed  to  pass  an  opinion 
on  the  events  of  war,  except  at  a  moment 
when  he  is  benumbed  by  frost,  sinking 
from  heat  and  thirst,  or  dying  with  hunger 
and  fatigue,  we  should  certainly  have 
fewer  judgments  correct  objectively;  but 
they  would  be  so  subjectively,  at  least ; 
that  is,  they  would  contain  in  themselves 
the 'exact  relation  between  the  person 
giving  the  judgment  and  the  object. 
We  can  perceive  this  by  observing  how 
modestly  subdued,  even  spiritless  and 
desponding,  is  the  opinion  passed  upon 
the  results  of  untoward  events,  by  those 
who  have  been  eye-witnesses,  but  espe- 
cially if  they  have  been  parties  concerned. 
This  is,  according  to  our  view,  a  criterion 
of  the  influence  which  bodily  fatigue 
exercises,  and  of  the  allowance  to  be 
made  for  it  in  matters  of  opinion. 

Amongst  the  many  things  in  war  for 
which  no  tariff  can  be  fixed,  bodily  effort 
may  be  specially  reckoned.  Provided 
there  is  no  waste,  it  is  a  co- efficient  of 
all  the  forces,  and  no  one  can  tell  exactly 
to  what  extent  it  may  be  carried.  But 
what  is  remarkable  is,  that  just  as  only 
a  strong  arm  enables  the  archer  to  stretch 
the  bowstring  to  the  utmost  extent,  so 
also  in  war  it  is  only  by  means  of  a  great 
directing  spirit,  that  we  can  expect  the 
forces  will  be  stretched  to  the  utmost. 
For  it  is  one  thing  if  an  army,  in  conse- 
quence of  great  misfortunes,  surrounded 
with  danger,  falls  all  to  pieces  Hke  a  wall 
that  has  been  thrown  down,  and  can  only 
find  safety  in  the  utmost  exertion  of  its 
bodily  strength ;  it  is  another  thing  en- 
tirely when  a  victorious  army,  drawn  on 
by  proud  feelings  only,  is  conducted  at 


oy  WAH. 

[book  I, 

the  will  of  its  chief.  The  same  effort 
which,  in  the  one  case,  might  at  most 
excite  our  pity,  must,  in  the  other  call 
forth  our  admiration,  because  it  is  much 
more  difficult  to  sustain. 

By  this  comes  to  light  for  the  inex* 
perienced  eye,  one  of  those  things  which 
put  fetters  in  the  dark,  as  it  were,  on  the 
action  of  the  mind,  and  wear  out  in  secret 
the  powers  of  the  soul. 

Although  here  strictly,  the  question  is 
only  respecting  the  extreme  effort  re- 
quired by  a  commander  from  his  army, 
by  a  loader  from  his  followers,  therefore 
of  the  spirit  to  demand  it,  of  the  art  of 
getting  it;  still  the  personal  physical 
exertion  of  generals  and  of  the  chief  com- 
mander, must  not  be  overlooked.  Having 
brought  the  analysis  of  war  conscien- 
tiously up  to  this  point,  we  could  not  but 
take  accoimt  also  of  the  weight  of  this 
small  remaining  residue. 

We  have  spoken  here  of  bodily  effort, 
chiefly  because,  like  danger,  it  belongs 

to  the  fundamental  causes  of  friction, 
and  because  its  indefinite  quantity  makes 
it  like  an  elastic  body,  the  friction  of 
which  is  well  known  to  be  difficult  to 

To  check  the  abuse  of  these  con- 
siderations, of  such  a  survey  of  things 
which  aggravate  the  difficulties  of  war, 
nature  has  given  our  judgment  a  guide 
in  our  sensibilities.  Just  as  an  indivi- 
dual cannot  with  advantage  refer  to  his 
personal  deficiencies  if  he  is  insulted  and 
ill-treated,  but  may  well  do  so  if  he  has 
successfully  repelled  the  affront,  or  has 
fully  revenged  it,  so  no  Commander  or 
army  will  lessen  the  impression  of  a  dis- 
graceful defeat  by  depicting  the  danger, 
the  distress,  the  exertions,  things  which 
would  inmiensely  enhance  the  glory  of  a 
victory.  Thus,  our  feeling,  which  after 
all  is  only  a  higher  kind  of  judgment, 
forbids  us  to  do  what  seems  an  act  of 
justice  to  which  our  judgment  would  be 



By  the  word  '^  Information,"  we  denote 
all  the  knowledge  which  we  have  of  the 
enemy  and  his  country;  therefore,  in 
fact,  the  foundation  of  all  our  ideas  and 
actions.  Let  us  just  consider  the  nature 
of  this  foundation,  its  want  of  trustworthi- 
ness, its  changefulness,  and  we  shall  soon 
feel  what  a  dangerous  edifice  war  is,  how 
easily  it  may  fall  to  pieces  and  bury  us 
in  its  ruins.  For  although  it  is  a  maxim 
in  all  books  that  we  should  trust  only 
certain  information,  that  we  must  be 
always  suspicious ;  that  is  only  a  miser- 
able book-comfort,  belonging  to  that  de- 

scription of  knowledge  in  which  writers 
of  systems  and  compendiums  take  refuge 
for  want  of  anything  better. 

Great  part  of  the  information  obtained 
in  war  is  contradictory,  a  still  greater 
part  is  false,  and  by  far  the  greatest  part 
is  of  a  doubtful  character.  What  is  re- 
quired of  an  officer  is  a  certain  power  of 
discrimination,  which  only  knowledge  of 
men  and  things  and  good  judgment  can 
give;  The  law  of  probability  must  be 
his  guide.  This  is  not  a  trifling  difficulty 
even  in  respect  of  the  first  plans,  which 
can  be  formed  in  the  chamber  outside  the 

CHAP,  vii.j 



real  sphere  of  war ;  but  it  is  enormously 
increased  when  in  the  thick  of  war  itself 
one  report  follows  hard  upon  the  heels  of 
another;  it  is  then  fortunate  if  these 
reports  in  contradicting  each  other,  show 
a  certain  balance  of  probability,  and 
thus  themselves  call  forth  a  scrutiny. 
It  is  much  worse  for  the  inexperienced 
when  accident  does  not  render  him  this 
service,  but  one  report  supports  another, 
confirms  it,  magnifies  it,  fiLuishes  off  the 
picture  with  firei^  touches  of  colour,  until 
necessity  in  urgent  haste  forces  from  us 
a  resolution  which  will  soon  be  discovered 
to  be  folly,  all  those  reports  having  been 
lies,  exaggerations,  errors,  &c.,  &c.  In 
a  few  words,  most  reports  are  false,  and 
the  timidity  of  men  acts  as  a  multiplier 
of  lies  and  untruths.  As  a  general  rule 
every  one  is  more  inclined  to  lend  cre- 
dence to  the  bad  than  the  good.  Every 
one  is  inclined  to  magnify  the  bad  in 
some  measure,  and  although  the  alarms 
which  are  thus  propagated,  like  the  waves 
of  the  sea,  subside  into  themselves, 
still,  like  them,  without  any  apparent 
cause  they  rise  again.  Firm  in  reliance 
on  his  own  better  convictions,  the  chief 
must  stand  like  a  rock  against  which  the 
sea  breaks  its  fury  in  vain.  The  rdU  is 
not  easy ;  he  who  is  not  by  nature  of  a 
buoyant  disposition,  or  trained  by  expe- 
rience in  war,  and  matured  in  judgment, 
may  let  it  be  his  rule  to  do  violence  to 
his  own  natural  conviction  by  inclining 

from  the  side  of  fear  to  that  of  hope; 
only  by  that  means  will  he  be  able  to 
preserve  his  balance.  This  difB.culty 
of  seeing  things  correctly,  which  is 
one  of  the  greatest  frictions  in  war  makes 
things  appear  quite  different  to  what  was 
expected.  The  impression  of  the  senses 
is  stronger  than  the  force  of  the  ideas 
resulting  from  methodical  reflection,  and 
this  goes  so  far  that  no  important  under- 
taking was  ever  yet  carried  out  without 
the  Commander  having  to  subdue  new 
doubts  in  himself  at  the  time  of  com- 
mencing the  execution  of  his  work.  Or- 
dinary men  who  follow  the  suggestions 
of  others  become,  therefore,  generally 
undecided  on  the  spot ;  they  think  that 
they  have  found  circumstances  different 
to  what  they  had  expected,  and  this  view 
gains  strength  by  dieir  again  pelding 
to  the  suggestions  of  others.  But  even 
the  man  who  has  made  his  own  plans 
when  he  comes  to  see  things  with  his  own 
eyes,  will  often  think  he  has  done  wrong. 
Firm  reliance  on  self  must  make  him 
proof  against  the  seeming  pressure  of 
the  moment ;  his  first  conviction  will 
in  the  end  prove  true,  when  the  fore- 
groimd  scenery  which  fate  has  pushed  on 
to  the  stage  of  war,  with  its  accompani- 
ments of  terrific  objects  is  drawn  aside, 
and  the  horizon  extended.  This  is  one  of 
the  great  chasms  which  separate  concept 
tt'on  from  execution. 



As  long  as  we  have  no  personal  know- 
ledge of  war,  we  cannot  conceive 
where  those  difficulties  lie  of  which 
so  much  is  said,  and  what  that  genius, 
and  those  extraordinary  mental  powers 

required  in  a  general  have  really  to  do. 
All  appears  so  simple,  all  the  requisite 
branches  of  knowledge  appear  so  plain, 
all  the  combinations  so  unimportant,  that, 
in  comparison  with  them,  the^  easiest  pro- 


ON  wah. 

[book  I. 

blem  in  higher  mathematics  impresses  us 
with  a  certain  scientific  dignity.  But  if 
we  have  seen  war,  all  becomes  intelli- 
gible ;  and  still,  after  all,  it  is  extrefliely 
difficult  to  describe  what  it  is  which 
brings  about  this  change,  to  specify  this 
invisible  and  completely  efficient  Factor. 

Everything  is  very  simple  in  war,  but 
the  simplest  thing  is  difficult.  These 
difficulties  accumulate  and  produce  a 
friction,  which  no  man  can  imagine 
exactly  who  has  not  seen  war.  Suppose 
now  a  traveller,  who,  towards  evening, 
expects  to  accomplish  the  two  stages  at 
the  end  of  his  day's  journey,  four  or  five 
leagues,  with  post  horses,  on  the  high 
road — it  is  nothing.  He  arrives  now  at 
the  last  station  but  one,  finds  no  horses, 
or  very  bad  ones ;  then  a  hilly  country, 
bad  roads ;  it  is  a  dark  night,  and  he  is 
glad  when,  after  a  great  deal  of  trouble, 
he  reaches  the  next  station,  and  finds 
there  some  miserable  accommodation. 
So  in  war,  through  the  influence  of  an 
infinity  of  petty  circumstances,  which 
cannot  properly  be  described  on  paper, 
things  disappoint  us,  and  we  fall  short  of 
the  mark.  A  powerful  iron  will  over- 
comes this  friction,  it  crushes  the  obsta* 
cles,  but  certainly  the  machine  along 
with  them.  We  shall  often  meet  with  this 
result.  Like  an  obelisk,  towards  which 
the  principal  streets  of  a  place  converge, 
the  strong  will  of  a  proud  spirit,  stands 
prominent  and  commanding,  in  the  mid- 
dle of  the  art  of  war. 

Friction  is  the  only  conception  which,  in 
a  general  way.  corresponds  to  that  which 
distinguishes  real  war  from  war  on  paper. 
The  military  machine,  the  army  and  all 
belonging  to  it,  is  in  fact  simple;  and 
appears,  on  this  account,  easy  to  manage. 
But  let  us  reflect  that  no  part  of  it  is  in 
one  piece,  that  it  is  composed  entirely  of 
individuals,  each  of  which  keeps  up  its 
own  friction  in  all  directions.  Theoreti- 
cally all  sounds  very  well;  the  commander 
of  a  battalion  is  responsible  for  the  execu- 
tion  of  the   order  given ;    and  as   the 

battalion  by  its  discipline  is  glued  to- 
gether into  one  piece,  and  the  c^ief  must 
be  a  man  of  acknowledged  zeal,  the  beam 
turns  on  an  iron  pin  with  little  friction. 
But  it  is  not  so  in  reality,  and  all  that  is 
exaggerated  and  false  in  such  a  concep- 
tion manifests  itself  at  once  in  war.  The 
battalion  always  remains  composed  of  a 
number  of  men,  of  whom,  if  chance  so 
wills,  the  most  insignificant  is  able  to 
occasion  delay,  and  even  irregularity. 
The  danger  which  war  brings  with  it, 
the  bodily  exertions  which  it  requires, 
augment  this  evil  so  much,  that  they  may 
be  regarded  as  the  greatest  causes  of  it. 

This  enormous  friction,  which  is  not 
concentrated,  as  in  mechanics,  at  a  few 
points,  is  therefore  everywhere  brought 
into  contact  with  chance,  and  thus  facts 
take  place  upon  which  it  was  impossible 
to  cidculate,  their  chief  origin  being 
chance.  As  an  instance  of  one  such  chance, 
take  the  weather.  Here,  the  fog  prevents 
the  enemy  from  being  discovered  in  time, 
a  battery  from  firing  at  the  right  mo- 
ment, a  report  from  reaching  the  general ; 
there,  the  rain  prevents  a  battalion  from 
arriving,  another  from  reaching  in  right 
time,  because,  instead  of  three,  it  had  to 
march  perhaps  eight  hours ;  the  cavalry 
from  charging  effectively  because  it  is 
stuck  fast  in  heavy  ground. 

These  are  only  a  few  incidents  of  detail 
by  way  of  elucidation,  that  the  reader 
may  be  able  to  follow  the  author,  for 
whole  volumes  might  be  written  on  these 
difficulties.  To  avoid  this,  and  still  to 
give  a  clear  conception  of  the  host  of 
small  difficulties  to  be  contended  with  in 
war,  we  might  go  on  heaping  up  illustra- 
tions, if  we  were  not  afraid  of  being  tire- 
some. But  those  who  have  already 
comprehended  us  will  permit  us  to  add 
a  few  more. 

Activity  in  war  is  movement  in  a  re- 
sistant medium.  Just  as  a  man  in  water 
is  unable  to  perform  with  ease  and  regu- 
larity the  most  natural  and  simplest 
movement,  that  of  walking,  so  in  war, 




with  ordinary  powers,  one  cannot  keep 
even  the  line  of  mediocrity.  This  is  the 
reason  that  the  correct  theorist  is  like 
a  swimming  master,  who  teaches  on  dry 
land  movements  which  are  required  in  the 
water,  which  must  appear  grotesque  and 
ludicrous  to  those  who  forget  about  the 
water.  This  is  also  why  theorists, 
who  have  never  plunged  in  themselves, 
or  who  cannot  deduce  any  generalities 
^m  their  experience,  are  unpractical 
and  even  absurd,  because  they  only 
teach  what  every  one  knows — how  to 

Further,  every  war  is  rich  in  particular 
facts ;  while,  at  the  same  time,  each  is  an 
unexplored  sea,  full  of  rocks,  which  the 
general  may  have  a  suspicion  of,  but 
which  he  has  never  seen  with  his  eye, 
and  round  which,  moreover,  he  must 
steer  in  the  night.  If  a  contrary  wind 
also  springs  up,  that  is,  if  any  great 
accidental  event  declares  itself  adverse  to 
him,  then  the  most  consummate  skill, 
presence  of  mind  and  energy,  are  re- 
quired; whilst  to  those  who  only  look 
on  from  a  distance,  all  seems  to  proceed 
with  the  utmost  ease.  The  knowledge  of 
this  friction  is  a  chief  part  of  that  so  often 
talked  of,  experience  in  war,  which  is 
required  in  a  good  general.  Certainly, 
he  is  not  the  best  general  in  whose  mind 
it  assumes  the  greatest  dimensions,  who 
is  the  most  overawed  by  it  (this  includes 
that  class  of  over-anxious  generals,  of 
whom  there  are  so  many  amongst  the 
experienced) ;    but  a   general  must   be 

aware  of  it  that  he  may  overcome  it, 
where  that  is  possible ;  and  that  he  may 
not  expect  a  degree  of  precision  in  results 
which  is  impossible  on  account  of  this 
very  friction.  Besides,  it  can  never  be 
learnt  theoretically ;  and  if  it  could,  there 
would  still  be  wanting  that  experience  of 
judgment  which  is  called  tact,  and  which 
is  always  more  necessary  in  a  field  full  of 
innumerable  small  and  diversified  objects, 
than  in  great  and  decisive  cases,  when 
one's  own  judgment  may  be  aided  by 
consultation  with  others.  Just  as  the 
man  of  the  world,  through  tact  of  judg- 
ment which  has  become  habit,  speaks, 
acts,  and  moves  only  as  suits  the  occa- 
sion, so  the  officer,  experienced  in  war, 
will  always,  in  great  and  small  mat- 
ters, at  every  pulsation  of  war  as  we  may 
say,  decide  and  determine  suitably  to  the 
occasion.  Through  this  experience  and 
practice,  the  idea  comes  to  his  mind  of  it- 
self, that  so  and  so  will  not  suit.  And  thus 
he  will  not  easily  place  himself  in  a  posi- 
tion by  which  he  is  compromised,  which, 
if  it  often  occurs  in  war,  shakes  aU  the 
foundations  of  confidence,  and  becomes 
extremely  dangerous. 

It  is,  therefore,  this  friction,  or  what  is 
so  termed  here,  which  makes  that  which 
appears  easy  in  war  difficult  in  reality. 
As  we  proceed,  we  shall  often  meet  with 
this  subject  again,  and  it  will  hereafter 
become  plain  tibat,  besides  experience  and 
a  strong  will,  there  are  still  many  other 
rare  qualities  of  the  mind  required  to 
make  a  man  a  consummate  general. 



TuosE  things  which  as  elements  meet  to- 
gether in  the  atmosphere  of  war  and 
make  it  a  resistant  medium  for  every  ac- 
tivity,   wo   have    designated   under  the 

terms  danger,  bodily  effort  (exertion), 
information,  and  friction.  In  their  im- 
pedient  effects  they  may  therefore  bo 
comprehended  again  in  the  colloetive  no- 



[book  I. 

tion  of  a  general  friction.  Now  is  there, 
then,  no  kind  of  oil  which  is  capable  of 
diminishing  this  friction  ?  Only  one,  and 
that  one  is  not  always  available  at  the 
will  of  the  Commander  or  his  army.  It 
is  the  habituation  of  an  army  to  war. 

Habit  gives  strength  to  the  body  in 
great  exertion,  to  the  mind  in  great 
danger,  to  the  judgment  against  first  im- 
pressions. By  it  a  valuable  circumspec- 
tion is  generally  gained  throughout 
every  rank,  from  the  Hussar  and  Bifle- 
man,  up  to  the  General  of  Division, 
which  facilitates  the  work  of  the  chief 

As  the  human  eye  in  a  dark  room  di- 
lates its  pupil  draws  in  the  little  light 
that  there  is,  partially  distinguishes  ob- 
jects by  degrees,  and  at  last  knows  them 
quite  well,  so  it  is  in  war  with  the  expe- 
rienced soldier,  whilst  the  novice  is  only 
met  by  pitch  dark  night. 

Habituation  to  war  no  General  can 
give  his  army  at  once  ;  and  the  camps  of 
manoouvre  (peace  exercises)  furnish  but 
a  weak  substitute  for  it,  weak  in  compari- 
son with  real  experience  in  war,  but  not 
weak  in  relation  to  other  armies  in  which 
the  training  is  limited  to  mere  mechanical 
exercises  of  routine.  So  to  regulate  the 
exercises  in  peace  time  as  to  include 
some  of  these  causes  of  friction,  that 
the  judgment,  circumspection,  even  re- 
solution of  the  separate  leaders  may 
be  brought  into  exercise,  is  of  much- 
greater  consequence  than  those  believe 
who  do  not  know  the  thing  by  experience. 
It  is  of  immense  importance  that  the 
soldier,  high  or  low,  whatever  rank  he 
has,  should  not  have  to  encounter  for  the 
first    time  in  war  those  things  which. 

when  seen  for  the  first  time,  set  him  in 
astonishment  and  perplexity;  if  he  has 
only  met  with  them  one  single  time  be- 
fore, even  by  that  he  is  half  acquainted 
with  them.  This  relates  even  to  bodily 
fatigues.  They  should  be  practised  less 
to  accustom  Uie  body  than  the  mind 
to  them.  In  war  the  young  soldier 
is  very  apt  to  regard  unusual  fatigues  as 
the  consequence  of  faults,  mistakes,  and 
embarrassment  in  the  conduct  of  the 
whole,  and  to  become  distressed  by  that. 
This  would  not  happen  if  he  had  been 
prepared  for  that  beforehand  by  exercises 
in  peace. 

Another  less  comprehensive  but  still 
very  important  means  of  gaining  habitua- 
tion to  war  in  time  of  peace  is  to  invite 
into  the  service  officers  of  foreign  armies, 
who  have  had  experience  in  war.  Peace 
seldom  reigns  over  all  Europe,  and  never 
in  all  quarters  of  the  world.  A  State 
which  has  been  long  at  peace  should, 
therefore,  always  seek  to  procure  some 
officers  who  have  done  good  service  at 
the  different  scenes  of  warfare;  or  to 
send  there  some  of  its  own,  that  they 
may  get  a  lesson  in  war. 

However  small  the  number  of  officers 
of  this  description  may  appear  in  propor- 
tion to  the  mass,  still  their  influence  is 
very  sensibly  felt.  Their  experience,  the 
bent  of  their  genius,  the  stamp  of  their 
character,  influence  their  subordinates 
and  comrades ;  and  besides  that,  if  they 
cannot  be  placed  in  positions  of  superior 
command,  they  may  always  be  regarded 
as  men  acquainted  with  the  country,  who 
may  be  questioned  on  many  special  occa- 





War  in  ita  literal  meaning  is  fighting, 
for  fighting  alone  is  the  efficient  prin- 
ciple in  the  manifold  activity  which,  in  a 
wide  .sense,  is  called  war.  But  fighting 
is  a  trial  of  strength  of  the  moral  and 
physical  forces  by  means  of  the  latter. 
That  the  moral  cannot  be  omitted  is  evi- 
dent of  itself,  for  the  condition  of  the 
mind  has  always  the  most  decisive  influ- 
ence on  the  forces  employed  in  war. 

The  necessity  of  fighting  very  soon  led 
men  to  special  inventions  to  turn  the  ad- 
vantage in  it  in  their  own  favour ;  in  con- 
sequence of  that  the  mode  of  fighting 
has  undergone  great  alterations  ;  but  in 
whatever  way  it  is  conducted  its  concep- 
tion remains  unaltered,  and  fighting  is 
that  which  constitutes  war. 

The  inventions  have  been  from  the 
first  weapons  and  equipments  for  the  in- 
dividual combatants.  These  have  to  be 
provided,  and  the  use  of  them  learnt  be- 
iore  the  war  begins.  They  are  made 
suitable  to  the  nature  of  the  fighting, 
consequently  are  ruled  by  it ;  but  plainly 
the  activity  engaged  in  these  appliances 
is  a  different  thing  from  the  fight  itself ; 
it  is  only  the  preparation  for  the  combat, 
not  the  conduct  of  the  same.  That 
arming  and  equipping  are  not  essential 
to  the  conception  of  fighting  is   plain, 

because  mere  wrestling  is  also  fight- 
ing. , 

Fighting  has  determined  everything 

appertaining  to  arms  and  equipment,  and 
these  in  turn  modify  the  mode  of  fighting ; 
there  is,  therefore,  a  reciprocity  of  action 
between  the  two. 

Nevertheless,  the  fight  itself  remains 
still  an  entirely  special  activity,  more 
particidarly  because  it  moves  in  an  en- 
tirely special  element,  namely,  in  the 
element  of  danger. 

If,  then,  there  is  anywhere  a  necessity 
for  drawing  a  line  between  two  different 
activities  it  is  here  ;  and  in  order  to  see 
clearly  the  importance  of  this  idea,  we 
need  only  just  to  call  to  mind  how  often 
eminent  personal  fitness  in  one  field  has 
turned  out  nothing  but  the  most  useless 
pedantry  in  the  other. 

It  is  also  noways  difficult  to  separate 
in  idea  the  one  activity  from  the  other, 
if  we  look  at  the  combatant  forces  fully 
armed  and  equipped  as  a  given  means 
the  profitable  use  of  which  requires 
nothing  more  than  a  knowledge  of  their 
general  results. 

The  art  of  war  is,  therefore,  in  its 
proper  sense,  the  art  of  making  use  of  the 
given  means  in  fighting,  and  we  cannot 
give  it  a  better  name  than  the  ^^  Conduct  of 



[book  I. 

^flr."  On  the  other  hand,  in  a  wider 
sense  certainly,  all  activities  which  have 
their  existence  on  account  of  war,  there- 
fore the  whole  creation  of  troops,  that  is 
levying  them,  arming,  equipping,  and 
exercising  them,  helong  to  the  art  of 

To  make  a  sound  theory  it  is  most  es- 
sential to  separate  these  two  activities, 
for  it  is  easy  to  see  that  if  every  art  of 
war  is  to  begin  with  the  preparation  of 
military  forces,  and  to  pre-suppose  forces 
so  organised  as  a  primary  condition  for 
conducting  war,  that  theory  will  only  be 
applicable  in  the  few  cases  to  which  the 
force  available  happens  to  be  exactly 
suited.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  we  wish 
to  have  a  theory  which  shall  suit  most 
cases,  and  will  not  be  wholly  useless  in 
any  case,  it  must  be  founded  on  those 
means  which  are  in  most  general  use,  and 
in  respect  to  these  only  on  the  actual  re- 
sults springing  from  them. 

The  conduct  of  war  is,  therefore,  the 
formation  and  conduct  of  the  fighting. 
If  this  fighting  was  a  single  act,  there 
would  be  no  necessity  for  any  further 
subdivision  ;  but  the  fight  is  composed  of 
a  greater  or  less  number  of  single  acts, 
complete  in  themselves,  which  we  call 
combats,  as  we  have  shown  in  the  first 
chapter  of  the  first  book,  and  which  form 
new  units.  From  this  arises  the  totally 
different  activities,  that  of  the  formation 
and  conduct  of  these  single  combats  in 
themselves,  and  the  combination  of  them 
with  one  another,  with  a  view  to  the 
ultimate  object  of  the  war.  The  first  is 
called  tactics y  the  other  strategy. 

This  division  into  tactics  and  strategy 
is  now  in  almost  general  use ;  and  every 
one  knows  tolerably  well  under  which 
head  to  place  any  single  fact,  without 
knowing  very  distinctly  the  grounds  on 
which  the  classification  is  founded.  But 
when  such  divisions  are  blindly  adhered 
to  in  practice,  they  must  have  some  deep 
root.  We  have  searched  for  this  root,  and 
wo  might  say  that  it  is  just  the  UHnge  of 

the  majority  which  has  brought  us  to  it. 
On  the  other  hand,  we  look  upon  the 
arbitrary,  unnatural  definitions  of  these 
conceptions  sought  to  be  established  by 
some  writers,  as  not  in  accordance  with 
the  general  usage  of  the  terms. 

According  to  our  classification  there- 
fore, tactics  is  the  theory  oj  the  ttse  of  mili- 
tary forces  in  combat.  Strategy  is  the  theory 
of  the  use  of  combats  for  the  object  of  the  war. 

The  way  in  which  the  conception  of 
a  single  or  independent  combat  is  more 
closely  determined,  the  conditions  to 
which  this  imit  is  attached,  we  shall  only 
be  able  to  explain  clearly  when  we  con- 
sider 4he  combat;  we  must  content  our- 
selves for  the  present  with  saying  that 
in  relation  to  space,  therefore  in  combats 
taking  place  at  the  same  time,  the  unit 
reaches  just  as  far  as  personal  command 
reaches ;  but  in  regard  to  time,  and 
therefore  in  relation  to  combats  which 
follow  each  other  in  close  succession  it 
reaches  to  the  moment  when  the  crisis, 
which  takes  place  in  every  combat,  is  en- 
tirely passed. 

That  here  doubtful  cases  may  occur, 
cases,  for  instance,  in  which  several  com- 
bats may  perhaps  be  regarded,  also,  as  a 
single  one,  will  not  overthrow  the  ground 
of  distinction  we  have  adopted,  for  the 
same  is  the  case  with  all  grounds  of  dis- 
tinction, of  real  things  which  are  differ- 
entiated by  a  gradually  diminishing 
scale.  There  may,  therefore,  certainly 
be  acts  of  activity  in  war  which,  with- 
out any  alteration  in  the  point  of  view, 
may  just  as  well  be  counted  strategic  as 
tactical,  for  example,  very  extended  posi- 
tions resembling  a  chain  of  posts,  the 
prepai*ations  for  the  passage  of  a  river  at 
several  points,  &c. 

Our  classification  reaches  and  covers 
only  the  ttse  of  the  military  force.  But 
now  there  are  in  war  a  number  of  activi- 
ties which  are  subservient  to  it,  and 
still  are  quite  different  from  it ;  some- 
times closely  allied,  sometimes  less  near 
in   their   affinity.      All   these   activities 

CBAF.  I.] 



relate  to  the  maintenance  of  the  military 
force.  The  same  as  ita  creation  and  train- 
ing precedes  its  use,  so  its  m^teDance  is 
always  by  its  side,  a  necessary  condition. 
But  strictly  viewed,  all  activities  thus 
connected  with  it  are  always  to  be  re- 
garded only  as  preparations  for  fighting, 
they  are  certainly  nothing  more  than 
activities  which  are  veiy]  dose  to  the 
action ;  so  that  they  run  through  the  hos- 
tile act  alternate  in  importance  with  the 
use  of  the  forces.  We  have,  therefore,  a 
right  to  exclude  them  as  well  as  the  other 
preparatory  activities  from  the  art  of  war 
in  its  restricted  sense,  from  the  conduct 
of  war  properly  so  called ;  and  we  are 
obliged  to  do  so  if  we  would  comply  with 
the  first  principle  of  all  theory,  the  elimi- 
nation of  all  heterogeneous  elements. 
Who  would  include  in  the  real ''  conduct 
of  war  "  the  whole  litany  of  subsistence 
administration,  because  it  is  admitted  to 
stand  in  constant  reciprocal  action  with 
the  use  of  the  troops,  but  is  something 
essentially  different  from  it  ? 

We  have  said,  in  the  third  chapter  of 
our  first  book,  that  as  the  fight  or  com- 
bat is  the  only  directly  effective  activity, 
therefore  the  threads  of  all  others,  as 
they  end  in  it,  are  included  in  it.  By  this 
we  meant  to  say,  that  to  all  others  an 
object  was  thereby  appointed  which,  in  ac- 
cordance with  the  laws  peculiar  to  them- 
selves they  must  seek  to  attain.  Here  we 
must  go  a  little  closer  into  this  subject. 

The  subjects  which  constitute  the  acti- 
vities outside  of  the  combat  are  of  various 

The  one  part  belongs,  Id  one  respect, 
to  the  combat  itself,  is  identical  with  it; 
whilst  it  serves  in  another  respect  for  the 
maintenance  of  the  military  force.  The 
other  part  belongs  purely  to  the  subsis- 
tence, and  has  omy,  in  consequence  of  the 
reciprocal  action,  a  limited  influence  on 
the  combats  by  its  results.  The  subjects 
which,  in  one  respect,  belong  to  the 
fighting  itself,  are  ma/rchea^  camps^  and  can^ 
timmenUf  for  ^ey  suppose  so  many  differ- 

ent situations  of  troops,  and  where  troops 
are  supposed,  there  the  idea  of  the  com- 
bat must  always  be  present. 

The  other  subjects,  which  only  belong 
to  the  maintenance,  are  subeiateneCf  care  of 
the  sick,  the  supply  and  repair  of  arms  and 

Marches  are  quite  identical  with  the 
use  of  the  troops.  March  in  the  eomhaty 
generally  called  evolution,  is  certainly 
not  properly  the  use  of  weapons ;  but  it 
IS  so  completely  and  necessarily  combined 
with  it,  uiat  it  forms  an  integral  part  of 
that  which  we  call  a  combat.  But  the 
march  outside  the  combat  is  nothing  but 
the  execution  of  a  strategic  measure. 
By  the  strategic  plan  is  settled,  When, 
where,  and  with  what  forces  a  battle  is  to 
be  delivered? — and  to  carry  that  into 
execution  the  march  is  the  only  means. 

The  march  outside  of  the  combat  is, 
therefore,  an  instrument  of  strategy,  but 
not  on  that  account  exclusively  a  subject 
of  strategy,  for  as  the  armed  force  which 
executes  it  constitutes  a  possible  combat 
at  any  moment,  therefore  its  execution 
stands  also  under  tactical  as  weU  as 
strategic  rules.  If  we  prescribe  to  a 
column  its  route  on  a  particular  side  of  a 
river  or  of  a  branch  of  a  mountain,  then 
that  is  a  strategic  measure,  %t  it  contains 
the  intention  of  fighting  on  that  particu- 
lar side  of  the  hiU  or  river  in  preference 
to  the  other,  in  case  a  combat  should  be 
necessary  during  the  march. 

But  if  a  column,  instead  of  following 
the  road  through  a  valley,  marches  along 
the  parallel  ridge  of  heights,  or,  for  the 
convenience  of  marching,  divides  itself 
into  several  colunms,  then  these  are 
tactical  arrangements,  for  they  relate  to 
the  manner  in  which  we  shall  use  the 
troops  in  the  anticipated  combat. 

The  particular  order  of  march  is  in 
constant  relation  with  readiness  for  com- 
bat, is  therefore  tactical  in  its  nature,  for 
it  is  nothing  more  than  the  first  or  pre- 
liminary disposition  for  the  battle  which 
may  possibly  take  place. 



[book  n 

As  the  march  is  the  instrument  by 
which  strategy  apportions  its  active  ele- 
ments, the  combats,  but  these  last  often 
only  appear  by  their  results  and  not  in 
the  details  of  their  real  course,  it  could  not 
fail  to  happen  that  in  theory  the  instru- 
ment has  often  been  substituted  for  the 
efficient  principle.  Thus  we  hear  of  a  deci- 
sive skilful  march,  allusion  being  thereby 
made  to  those  combat- combinations  to 
which  these  marches  led.  This  substitu- 
tion of  ideas  is  too  natural,  and  concise- 
ness of  expression  too  desirable  to  call 
for  alteration  ;  but  still  it  is  only  a  con- 
densed chain  of  ideas  in  regard  to  which 
we  must  never  omit  to  bear  in  mind  the 
full  meaning,  if  we  would  avoid  falling 
into  error. 

We  fall  into  an  error  of  this  descrip- 
tion if  we  attribute  to  strategical  combi- 
nations a  force  independent  of  tactical 
results.  Marches  and  manoeuvres  are 
combined,  the  object  attained,  and  at  the 
same  time  not  a  word  about  combat  from 
which  the  conclusion  is  drawn  that  there 
are  means  in  war  of  conquering  an  enemy 
without  fighting.  The  prolific  nature  of 
this  error  we  cannot  show  until  here- 

But  although  a  march  can  be  regarded 
absolutely  as  an  integral  part  of  the  com- 
bat, still  there  are  in  it  certain  relations 
which  do  not  belong  to  the  combat,  and 
therefore  are  neither  tactical  nor  strategic. 
To  these  belong  all  arrangements  which 
concern  only  the  accommodation  of  the 
troops,  the  construction  of  bridges,  roads, 
&c.  These  are  only  conditions ;  under 
many  circimistances  they  are  in  very 
close  connection,  and  may  almost  identify 
themselves  with  the  troops,  as  in  building 
a  bridge  in  presence  of  the  enemy ;  but 
in  themselves  they  are  always  extraneous 
activities,  the  theory  of  which  does  not 
form  part  of  the  theory  of  the  conduct  of 

Camps,  by  which  we  mean  every  dis- 
position of  troops  in  concentrated,  there- 
fore, in  battle  order,  in  contradistinction 

to  cantonments  or  quarters,  are  a  state 
of  rest,  therefore,  of  restoration ;  but 
they  exB  at  the  same  time  also  the  stra- 
tegic appointment  of  a  battle  on  the  spot 
chosen;  and  by  the  manner  in  which 
they  are  taken  up  they  contain  the  fun- 
damental lines  of  the  battle,  a  condition 
from  which  everydefensive  battle  starts ; 
they  are,  therefore,  essential  parts  of 
both  strategy  8uid  tactics. 

Cantonments  take  the  place  of  camps 
for  the  better  refreshment  of  the  troops. 
They  are,  therefore,  like  camps,  strategic 
subjects  as  regards  position  and  extent; 
tactical  subjects  as  regards  internal  orga- 
nisation, with  a  view  to  readiness  to  fight. 

The  occupation  of  camps  and  canton- 
ments no  doubt  usually  combines  with 
the  refreshment  of  the  troops  another 
object  also,  for  example,  the  covering  a 
district  of  country,  the  holding  a  posi- 
tion; but  it  can  very  well  be  only  the 
first.  We  remind  our  readers  that  stra- 
tegy may  follow  a  great  diversity  of 
objects,  for  everything  which  appears  an 
advantage  may  be  the  object  of  a  com- 
bat, and  the  preservation  of  the  instru- 
ment with  which  war  is  made  must 
necessarily  very  often  become  the  object 
of  its  partial  combinations. 

If,  therefore,  in  such  a  case  strategy 
ministers  only  to  the  maintenance  of  the 
troops,  we  are  not  on  that  account  some- 
what out  of  the  field  of  strategy,  we  are 
still  engaged  with  the  use  of  the  mili- 
tary force,  because  every  disposition  of 
that  force  upon  any  point  whatever  of  the 
theatre  of  war  is  such  a  use. 

But  if  the  maintenance  of  the  troops 
in  camp  or  quarters  caUs  forth  activities, 
which  are  no  employment  of  the  armed 
force,  such  as  the  construction  of  huts, 
pitching  of  tents,  subsistence  and  sanitary 
services  in  camps  or  quarters,  then  such 
belong  neither  to  strategy  nor  tactics. 

Even  intrenchments,  the  site  and  pre- 
paration of  which  are  plainly  part  of  the 
order  of  battle,  therefore  tactical  subjects, 
do  not  belong  to  the  theory  of  the  con- 

CUAP.  I.] 



duct  of  war  bo  far  as  respects  the  execu- 
tion  of  their  eonftruction,  the  knowledge 
and  skill  required  for  such  work,  being, 
in  point  of  fact,  qualities  inherent  in  the 
nature  of  an  organised  army  ;  the  theory 
of  the  combat  takes  them  for  granted. 

Amongst  the  subjects  which  belong  to 
the  mere  keeping  up  of  an  armed  force, 
because  none  of  the  parts  are  identified 
with  the  combat,  the  victualling  of  the 
troops  themselves  comes  first,  as  it  must 
be  done  almost  daily  and  for  each  indi- 
vidual. Thus  it  is  that  it  completely 
permeates  military  action  in  the  parts 
constituting  strategy — we  say  parts  con- 
stituting strategy,  because  during  a 
battle  the  subsistence  of  troops  will 
rarely  have  any  influence  in  modifying 
the  plan,  although  the  thing  is  conceiv- 
able enough.  The  care  for  the  subsist- 
ence of  the  troops  comes  therefore  into 
reciprocal  action  chiefly  with  strategy, 
and  there  is  nothing  more  common  than 
for  the  leading  strategic  features  of  a  cam- 
paign and  war  to  be  traced  out  in  con- 
nection with  a  view  to  this  supply.  But 
however  frequent  and  however  important 
these  views  to  supply  may  be,  the  subsist- 
ence of  the  troops  always  remains  a  com- 
pletely different  activity  from  the  use  of 
the  troops,  and  the  former  has  only  an 
influence  on  the  latter  by  its  results. 

The  other  branches  of  administrative 
activity  which  we  have  mentioned  stand 
much  further  apart  from  the  use  of 
the  troops.  The  care  of  sick  and  wounded, 
highly  important  as  it  is,  for  the  good  of 
an  army,  directly  affects  it  only  in  a  small 
portion  of  the  individuals  composing  it, 
and,  therefore,  has  only  a  weak  and  in- 
direct influence  upon  the  use  of  the  rest. 
The  completing  and  replacing  articles  of 
arms  and  equipment,  except  so  far  as  by 
the  organism  of  the  forces  it  constitutes 
a  continuous  activity  inherent  in  them — 
takes  place  only  periodically,  and  there- 
fore seldom  affects  strategic  plans. 

"We  must,  however,  here  guard  our- 
selves  against  a  mistake.      In   certain 

cases  these  subjects  may  be  really  of  de- 
cisive importance.  The  distance  of  hos- 
pitals and  depots  of  munitions  may  very 
easily  be  imagined  as  the  sole  cause  of 
very  important  strategic  decisions.  We 
do  not  wish  either  to  contest  that  point 
or  to  throw  it  into  the  shade.  But  wo 
are  at  present  occupied  not  with  the  par- 
ticular facts  of  a  concrete  case,  but  with 
abstract  theory ;  and  our  assertion,  there- 
fore, is  that  such  an  influence  is  too  rare 
to  give  the  theory  of  sanitary  measures 
and  the  supply  of  munitions  and  arms  an 
importance  in  the  theory  of  the  conduct 
of  war  such  as  to  make  it  worth  while  to 
include  in  the  theory  of  the  conduct  of 
war  the  consideration  of  the  different 
ways  and  systems  which  the  above  theo- 
ries may  furnish,  in  the  same  way  as  is 
certainly  necessary  in  regard  to  victual- 
ling troops. 

If  we  have  clearly  understood  the  re- 
sults of  our  reflections,  then  the  activities 
belonging  to  war  divide  themselves  into 
two  principal  classes,  into  such  as  aro 
only  ^^Preparations  for  War  "  and  into  the 
**  War  itself,^'  This  division  must  there- 
fore also  be  made  in  theory. 

The  knowledge  and  applications  of  skill 
in  the  preparations  for  war  are  engaged  in 
the  creation,  discipline  and  maintenance 
of  all  the  military  forces ;   what  general 
names  should  be  given  to  them  we  do 
not  enter  into  ;  but  we  see  that  artillery, 
fortification,  elementary  tactics,  as  they 
are  called,  the  whole  organisation  and 
administration    of    the    various    armed 
forces,  and  all  such  things  are  included. 
But  the  theory  of  war  itself  occupies  it- 
self with  the  use  of  these  prepared  means 
for  the  object  of  the  war.     It  needs  of 
the  first   only  the  results,  that  is,   the 
knowledge  of  the  principal  properties  of 
the  means  taken  in  hand  for  use.     This 
we  call  **  The  Art  of  War  '*  in  a  limited 
sense,    or  "Theory  of  the   Conduct   of 
War,"  or  "  Theory  of  the  Employment 
of  Armed  Forces,"  all  of  them  denoting 
for  us  the  same  thing. 



[book  ir. 

The  present  theory  will  therefore  treat 
the  combat  as  the  real  contest,  marches, 
camps,  and  cantonments  as  circumstances 
which  are  more  or  less  identical  with 
it.  The  subsistence  of  the  troops  will 
only  come  into  consideration  like  otiier 
given  circumstances  in  respect  of  its  results, 
not  as  an  activity  belonging  to  the  com- 

The  Art  of  War  thus  viewed  in  its 
limited  sense  divides  itself  again  into 
tactics  and  strategy.  The  former  occu- 
pies itself  with  the  form  of  the  separate 
combat,  the  latter  with  its  use.  Both 
connect  themselves  with  the  circumstances 
of  marches,  camps,  cantonments  only 
through  the  combat,  and  these  oircum- 
stcmces  are  tactical  or  strategic  according 
as  they  relate  to  the  form  or  to  the  signi- 
fication of  the  battle. 

No  doubt  there  will  be  many  readers 
who  will  consider  superfluous  this  careful 
separation  of  two  things  lying  so  close  to- 
gether as  tactics  and  strategy,  because  it 
has  no  direct  effect  on  the  conduct  itself 
of  war.  We  admit,  certainly,  that  it 
would  be  pedantry  to  look  for  direct 
effects  on  the  field  of  battle  from  a  theo- 
retical distinction. 

But  the  first  business  of  every  theory  is 
to  clear  up  conceptions  and  ideas  which 
have  been  jumbled  together,  and,  we  may 
say,  entangled  and  confused ;  and  only 
when  a  right  imderstanding  is  established 
as  to  names  and  conceptions,  can  we  hope 
to  progress  with  clearness  and  facility, 
and  be  certain  that  author  and  reader  wUl 
always  see  things  from  the  same  point  of 
view.  Tactics  and  strategy  are  two 
activities  mutually  permeating  each  other 
in  time  and  space,  at  the  same  time 
essentially  different  activities,  the  inner 
laws  and  mutual  relations  of  which  can- 
not be  intelligible  at  all  to  the  mind 
until  a  clear  conception  of  the  nature  of 
each  activity  is  established. 

He  to  whom  all  this  is  nothing  must 
either  repudiate  all  theoretical  considera- 
tion, or  his  imderstanding  has  not  as  yet 
been  pained  by  the  confused  and  perplex- 
ing ideas  resting  on  no  fixed  point  of 
view,  leading  to  no  satisfactory  result, 
sometimes  dull,  sometimes  fantastic,  some- 
times floating  in  vague  generalities,  which 
we  are  often  obliged  to  hear  and  read  on 
the  conduct  of  war,  owing  to  the  spirit 
of  scientiflc  investigation  having  hitherto 
been  little  directed  to  these  subjects. 


ON    THE   THEORY   OF    WAR. 

1. — The  first  eoneeption  of  the  ^^  Art  of 
War  "  was  merely  the  preparation  of  the 
Armed  Forces, 

FoRHEBLY  by  the  term  "  Art  of  War,'*  or 
**  Science  of  War,"  nothing  was  under- 
stood but  the  totality  of  those  branches  of 
knowledge  and  those  appliances  of  skill 
occupied  with    material    things.      The 

pattern  and  preparation  and  the  nK>de  of 
using  arms,  the  construction  of  fortifica- 
tions and  entrenchments,  the  organism  of 
an  army,  and  the  mechanism  of  its  move- 
ments, were  the  subjects  of  these  branches 
of  knowledge  and  skill  above  referred  to, 
and  the  end  and  aim  of  them  all  was  the 
establishment  of  an  armed  force  fit  for 
use  in  war.    All  this  concerned  merely 

OttAP.  n.] 



things  belonging  to  the  material  world 
and  a  one-sided  actiyity  only ;  and  it 
was  in  fact  nothing  but  an  activity  ad- 
vancing by  gradations  from  the  lower 
occupations  to  a  finer  kind  of  mechanical 
art.  The  relation  of  all  this  to  war  itself 
was  very  much  the  same  as  the  relation 
of  the  art  of  the  sword  cutler  to  the  art 
of  using  the  Bword.  The  employment  in 
the  moment  of  danger  and  in  a  state  of 
constant  reciprocal  action  of  the  parti- 
cular energies  of  mind  and  spirit  in  the 
direction  proposed  to  them  was  not  yet 
even  mooted. 

2, — True  war  first  appears  tn  the  Art  of 


In  the  art  of  sieges  we  first  perceive  a 
certain  degree  of  guidance  of  the  combat, 
something  of  the  action  of  the  intellectual 
faculties  upon  the  material  forces  placed 
under  their  control,  but  generally  only 
so  far  that  it  very  soon  embodied  itself 
again  in  new  material  forms,  such  as 
approaches,  trenches,  counter  approaches, 
batteries,  etc.,  and  every  step  which  this 
action  of  the  higher  faculties  took  was 
marked  by  some  such  result ;  it  was  only 
the  thread  that  was  required  on  which  to 
string  these  material  inventions  in  order. 
As  the  intellect  can  hardly  manifest 
itself  in  this  kind  of  wair,  except  in  such 
things,  so  therefore  nearly  all  that  was 
necessary  was  done  in  that  way. 

3. — Then  tactics  tried  to  find  its  way  in 

that  direction. 

Afterwards,  tactics  attempted  to  give 
to  the  mechanism  of  its  joints  the  charac- 
ter of  a  general  disposition,  built  upon  the 
peculiar  properties  of  the  instrument, 
which  character  leads  indeed  to  the 
battle-field,  but  instead  of  leading  to  the 
free  activity  of  mind,  leads  to  an  army 
made  like  an  automaton  by  its  rigid  for- 
mations  and  orders  of  battle,  which, 
moveable  only  by  the  word  of  command, 

is  intended  to  unwind  its  activities  like  a 
piece  of  clockwork. 

4. — The  real  conduct  of  War  only  made  its 
appearance  incidentally  and  incognito. 

The  conduct  of  war  properly  so  called, 
that  is,  a  use  of  the  prepared  means 
adapted  to  the  most  special  requirements, 
was  not  considered  as  any  suitable  sub- 
ject for  theory,  but  one  which  should  be 
left  to  natural  talents  alone.  By  degrees, 
as  war  passed  from  the  hand  to  hand  en- 
counters of  the  middle  ages  into  a  more 
regular  and  eystematic  form,  etray  reflec- 
tions  on  this  point  also  forced  themselves 
into  men's  minds,  but  they  mostly  ap- 
peared only  incidentally  in  memoirs  and 
narratives,  and  in  a  certain  measure  in- 

5. — Reflections  on  Military  Events  brought 
about  the  want  of  a  Theory. 

As  contemplation  on  war  continually 
increased,  and  its  history  every  day  as- 
sumed more  of  a  critical  character,  the  ur- 
gent want  appeared  of  the  support  of  fixed 
maxims  and  rules,  in  order  that  in  the  con- 
troversies naturally  arising  about  mili- 
tary events,  the  war  of  opinions  might 
be  brought  to  some  one  point.  This  whirl 
of  opinions,  which  neither  revolved  on 
any  central  pivot,  nor  according  to  any 
appreciable  laws,  could  not  but  be  very 
distasteful  to  people's  minds. 

6. — Endeavours  to  establish  a  positive 

There  arose,  therefore,  an  endeavour 
to  establish  maxims,  rules,  and  even  sys- 
tems for  the  conduct  of  war.  By  this 
the  attainment  of  a  positive  object  was 
proposed,  without  taking  into  view  the 
endless  difficulties  which  the  conduct  of 
war  presents  in  that  respect.  The  con- 
duct of  war,  as  we  have  shown,  has  no 
definite  limits  in  almost  any  direction, 



[book  n. 

while  every  system  has  the  ciTcnmscribing 
nature  of  a  synthesis,  from  which  results 
an  irreconcileable  oppositionbetween  such 
a  theory  and  practice. 

7. — Limitaiion  to  Material  Objects, 

"Writers  on  theory  felt  the  difficulty  of 
the  subject  soon  enough,  and  thought 
themselves  entitled  to  get  rid  of  it  by 
directing  their  maxims  and  systems  only 
upon  material  things  and  a  one-sided  ac- 
tivity. Their  aim  was  to  reach  results, 
as  in  the  science  for  the  preparation  for 
war,  entirely  certain  and  positive,  and 
therefore  only  to  take  into  consideration 
that  which  could  be  made  matter  of  cal* 

%.^ Superiority  of  Numbers, 

The  superiority  in  niunbers  being  a 
material  condition,  it  was  chosen  from 
amongst  all  the  factors  required  to  pro- 
duce victory,  because  it  could  be  brought 
imder  mathematical  laws  through  combi- 
nations of  time  and  space.  It  was  thought 
possible  to  leave  out  of  sight  all  other 
circumstances,  by  supposing  them  to  be 
equal  on  each  side,  and  therefore  to  neu- 
tralise one  another.  This  would  have 
been  very  well  if  it  had  been  done  to 
gain  a  preliminary  knowledge  of  this  one 
factor,  according  to  its  relations  ;  but  to 
make  it  a  rule  for  ever  to  consider  supe- 
riority of  numbers  as  the  sole  law :  to 
see  the  whole  secret  of  the  art  of  war  in 
the  formula — in  a  certain  timef  at  a  cer- 
tain point,  to  bring  up  superior  masses — 
was  a  restriction  overruled  by  the  force 
of  realities. 

9. —  Victualling  of  Troops, 

By  one  theoretical  school  an  attempt 
was  made  to  systematize  another  material 
element  also,  by  making  the  Eubsistence 
of  troops,  according  to  a  previously  esta- 
blished  organism  of  the  army,  the  su- 
preme legislator  in  the  higher  conduct 
of  war.      In  this  way,  certainly,  they 

arrived  at  definite  figures,  but  at  fig^ores 
which  rested  on  a  number  of  arbitrary 
calculations,  and  which,  therefore,  could 
not  stand  the  test  of  practical  applica- 

10. — Base. 

An  ingenious  author  tried  to  concen- 
trate in  a  single  conception,  that  of  a  Base^ 
a  whole  host  of  objects,  amongst  which 
sundry  relations  even  with  immaterial 
forces  found  their  way  in  as  well.  The  list 
comprised  the  subsistence  of  the  troops, 
the  keeping  them  complete  in  numbers  and 
equipment,  the  security  of  communica- 
tions with  the  home  country,  lastly,  the 
security  of  retreat  in  case  it  became  ne- 
cessary, and,  first  of  all,  he  proposed  to 
substitute  this  conception  of  a  base 
for  all  these  things ;  then  for  the 
base  itself  to  substitute  its  own  length 
(extent) ;  and,  last  of  all,  for  that  to  sub- 
stitute the  angle  formed  by  the  army  with 
this  base :  all  this  was  done  merely  to 
obtain  a  pure  geometrical  result  utterly 
useless.  This  last  is,  in  fact,  unavoid- 
able, if  we  reflect  that  none  of  these  sub- 
stitutions could  be  made  without  violating 
truth  and  leaving  out  some  of  the  things 
contained  in  the  original  conception. 
The  idea  of  a  base  is  a  real  necessity  for 
strategy,  and  to  have  conceived  it  is  meri- 
torious ;  but  to  make  such  a  use  of  it  as 
wo  have  depicted  is  completely  inadmis- 
sible, and  could  not  but  lead  to  partial 
conclusions  which  have  forced  these 
theorists  into  a  direction  opposed  to 
common  sense,  namely,  to  a  belief  in  the 
decisive  effect  of  the  enveloping  form  of 

1 1 . — Interior  Lines, 

As  a  reaction  against  this  false  direc- 
tion, another  geometrical  principle,  that 
of  the  so-called  interior  lines,  was  then 
elevated  to  the  throne.  Although  this 
principle  rests  on  a  sound  foundation,  on 
the  truth  that  the  combat  is  the  only 
efiPectual  means  in  war ;  still,  it  is  just  on 

CHAP,  n.] 



aooonnt  of  its  purely  geometrical  nature 
nothing  but  another  case  of  one-sided 
theory  which  can  nerer  gain  ascendancy 
in  the  real  world. 

12. — All  thete  attempts  are  exceptionahle. 

All  these  attempts  at  theory  are  only 
in  their  analytical  part  to  be  con- 
sidered as  progress  in  the  province  of 
truth ;  but  in  their  synthetical  part,  in 
their  precepts  and  rules,  as  quite  unser- 

They  strive  after  determinate  quanti- 
ties, whilst  in  war  all  is  undetermined, 
and  the  calculation  has  always  to  be 
made  with  purely  varying  quantities. 

They  point  the  attention  only  upon 
material  forces,  while  the  whole  mili- 
tary action  is  penetrated  throughout  by 
intelligent  forces  and  their  effects. 

They  only  pay  regard  to  activity  on  one 
side,  whilst  war  is  a  constant  state  of 
reciprocal  action,  the  effects  of  which  are 

14. — The  difficulty  of  Theory  as  soon  ae  moral 
qMantities  eome  into  consideration. 

Every  theory  becomes  infinitely  more 
difficult  £rom  the  moment  that  it  touches 
on  the  province  of  moral  quantities. 
Architecture  and  painting  know  quite 
well  what  they  are  about  as  long  as  they 
have  only  to  do  with  matter ;  there  is  no 
dispute  about  mechanical  or  optical  con- 
struction. But  as  soon  as  the  moral  ac- 
tivities begin  their  work,  as  soon  as 
moral  impressions  and  feelings  are  pro- 
duced, the  whole  set  of  rules  dissolves 
into  vague  ideas. 

The  science  of  medicine  is  chiefly  en- 
gaged with  bodily  phenomena  only ;  its 
business  is  with  ^e  animal  organism 
which,  liable  to  perpetual  change,  is 
never  exactly  the  same  for  two  moments. 
This  makes  its  office  very  difficult,  and 
places  the  judgment  of  the  physician 
above  his  science ;  but  how  much  more 
difficult  the  case  is  if  a  moral  effect  is 
added,  and  how  much  higher  we  place 
the  physician  of  the  mind  ? 

13. — As  a  rule  they  exclude  genius. 

All  that  was  not  attainable  by  such 
miserable  philosophy,  the  offspring  of 
partial  views,  lay  outside  the  precincts 
of  science— was  the  field  of  genius,  which 
raises  itself  above  rules. 

Pity  the  warrior  who  is  contented  to 
crawl  about  in  this  beggardom  of  rules, 
which  are  too  bad  for  genius,  over  which 
it  can  set  itself  superior,  over  which  it 
can  perchance  make  merry !  What  genius 
does  must  be  just  the  best  of  all  rules, 
and  theory  cannot  do  better  than  to  show 
how  and  why  it  is  so. 

Pity  the  theory  which  sets  itself  in  op- 
position to  the  mind !  It  cannot  repair 
this  contradiction  by  any  humility,  and 
the  humbler  it  is  so  much  the  sooner  will 
ridicule  and  contempt  drive  it  out  of  real 

15. — The  moral  quantities  must  not  he 
excluded  in  war. 

But  now  the  activity  in  war  is  never 
directed  solely  against  matter,  it  is  always 
at  the  same  time  directed  against  the  in- 
telligent force  which  g^ves  life  to  this 
matter,  and  to  separate  the  two  from  each 
other  is  impossible. 

But  the  intelligent  forces  are  only 
visible  to  the  inner  eye,  and  this  is  dif- 
ferent in  each  person,  and  often  different 
in  the  same  person  at  different  times. 

As  danger  is  the  general  element  in 
which  everything  moves  in  war,  it  is  also 
chiefly  by  courage,  the  feeling  of  one's 
own  power  that  the  judgment  is  differ- 
ently influenced.  It  is  to  a  certain  ex- 
tent the  crystalline  lens  through  which  all 
appearances  pass  before  reaching  the 

And  yet  we  cannot  doubt  that  these 



[book  n« 

things  acquire  a  certain  objectiye  value 
simply  tbirougli  experience. 

Every  one  knows  the  moral  effect  of  a 
surprise,  of  an  attack  in  flank  or  rear. 
Every  one  thinks  less  of  the  enemy's 
courage  as  soon  as  he  turns  his  back, 
and  ventures  much  more  in  pursuit 
than  when  pursued.  Every  one  judges 
of  the  enemy's  general  by  his  reputed 
talents,  by  lus  age  and  experience,  and 
shapes  his  course  accordingly.  Every 
one  casts  a  scrutinising  glance  at  the 
spirit  and  feeling  of  his  own  and  the 
enemy's  troops.  All  these  and  similar 
effects  in  the  province  of  the  moral  na« 
ture  of  man  have  established  themselves 
by  experience,  are  perpetually  recurring, 
and,  therefore,  warrant  our  reckoning 
them  as  real  quantities  of  their  kind. 
And  what  could  we  do  with  any  theory 
which  should  leave  them  out  of  conside- 

But,  certainly,  experience  is  an  indis- 
pensable title  for  these  truths.  With 
psychological  and  philosophical  sophis- 
tries, no  theory,  no  General  should 

16. — Prineipal  difficulty  of  a  Theory  for  the 
Conduct  of  War. 

In  order  to  comprehend  clearly  the 
difficulty  of  the  proposition  which  is  con- 
tained in  a  theory  for  the  conduct  of  war, 
and  thence  to  deduce  the  necessary  cha- 
racteristics of  such  a  theory,  we  must 
take  a  closer  view  of  the  chief  particulars 
which  make  up  the  nature  of  activity  Tn 

17. — First  Speciality. — Moral  Forces  and 

their  Effects. 

(Hostile  Feeling. J 

The  first  of  these  specialities  consists 
in  the  moral  forces  and  effects. 

The  combat  is,  in  its  origin,  the  ex- 
pression of  hostile  feeling ;  but  in  our 
great  combats,  which  we  call  wars,  tlie 

hostile  feeling  frequently  resolves  itself 
into  merely  a  hostile  view ;  and  there  is 
usually  no  innate  hostile  feeling  residing 
in  individual  against  individual.  Never- 
theless, the  combat  never  passes  off  with- 
out such  feelings  being  brought  into 
activity.  National  hatred,  which  is 
seldom  wanting  in  our  wars,  is  a  sub- 
stitute for  personal  hostility  in  the  breast 
of  individual  opposed  to  individuaL 
But  where  this  also  is  wanting,  and  at 
first  no  animosity  of  feeling  subsisted,  a 
hostile  feeling  is  kindled  by  the  combat 
itself;  for  an  act  of  violence  which  any 
one  commits  upon  us  by  order  of  his 
superior,  will  excite  in  us  a  desire  to 
retaliate  and  be  revenged  on  him,  sooner 
than  on  the  superior  power  at  whose  com- 
mand the  act  was  done.  This  is  human, 
or  animal  if  we  will ;  still  it  is  so. — We 
are  very  apt  to  regard  the  combat  in 
theory  as  an  abstract  trial  of  strength, 
without  any  participation  on  the  part  of 
the  feelings,  and  that  is  one  of  the 
thousand  errors  which  theorists  delibe- 
rately commit,  because  they  do  not  see 
its  consequences. 

Besides  that  excitation  of  feelings 
naturally  arising  &om  the  combat  itself, 
there  are  others  also  which  do  not  essen- 
tially belong  to  it,  but  which,  on  account 
of  their  relationship,  easily  unite  with  it — 
ambition,  love  of  power,  enthusiasm  of 
every  kind,  &c.,  &c. 

18. — The  impressions  of  danger. 

Finally  the  combat  begets  the  ele- 
ment of  danger,  in  which  all  the  activi- 
ties of  war  must  live  and  move,  like 
the  bird  in  the  air,  or  the  fish  in  the 
water.  But  the  influences  of  danger  all 
pass  into  the  feelings,  either  directly — 
that  is,  instinctively— or  through  the 
medium  of  the  understanding.  The 
effect  in  the  first  case  would  be  a  desire 
to  escape  from  the  danger,  and,  if  that 
cannot  be  done,  fright  and  anxiety.     If 

•CHAP,  n.] 



this  effect  does  not  take  place,  then  it  is 
courttgey  which  is  a  counterpoise  to  that 
instinct.  Courage  is,  however,  by  no 
means  an  act  of  the  understanding,  but 
likewise  a  feeling,  like  fear;  the  latter 
looks  to  the  physical  preservation,  courage 
to  the  moral  preservation.  Courage, 
then,  is  a  nobler  instinct.  But  because 
it  is  so,  it  will  not  allow  itseK  to  be  used 
as  a  lifeless  instrument,  which  produces 
its  effects  exactly  according  to  prescribed 
measure.  Courage,  is,  therefore,  no 
mere  counterpoise  to  danger  in  order  to 
neutralise  the  latter  in  its  effects,  but  a 
peculiar  power  in  itself. 

19. — Extent  of  the  influmee  of  danger. 

But  to  estimate  exactly  the  influence 
of  danger  upon  the  principal  actors  in 
war,  we  must  not  limit  its  sphere  to  the 
physical  danger  of  the  moment.  It  domi- 
nates over  the  actor,  not  only  by  threat- 
ening him,  but  also  by  threatening  all 
entrusted  to  him,  not  only  at  the  moment 
in  which  it  is  actually  present,  but  also 
through  the  imagination  at  all  other 
moments,  which  have  a  connection  with 
the  present ;  lastly,  not  only  directly  by 
itself,  but  also  indirectly,  by  the  respon- 
sibility which  makes  it  bear  with  tenfold 
weight  on  the  mind  of  the  chief  actor. 
Who  could  advise,  or  resolve  upon  a  great 
battle,  without  feeling  his  mind  more  or 
less  wrought  up  or  perplexed  by  the  dan- 
ger and  responsibility  which  such  a  great 
act  of  decision  carries  in  itself !  We  may 
say  that  action  in  war,  in  so  far  as  it  is 
real  action,  not  a  mere  condition,  is  never 
out  of  the  sphere  of  danger. 

20. — Other  powers  of  feeling, 

11  we  look  upon  these  affections,  which 
are  excited  by  hostility  and  danger  as 
peculiarly  belonging  to  war,  we  do  not, 
therefore,  exclude  from  it  all  others 
accompanying  man  in  his  life's  journey. 
They  will  also  find  room  here  frequently 

enough.  Certainly,  we  may  say  that 
many  a  petty  action  of  the  passions  is 
silenced  in  this  serious  business  of  life; 
but  that  holds  good  only  in  respect  to 
those  acting  in  a  lower  sphere;  who, 
hurried  on  from  one  state  of  danger  and 
exertion  to  another,  lose  sight  of  the  rest 
of  the  things  of  liife,  become  unused  to 
deceit,  because  it  is  of  no  avail  with 
death ;  and  so  attain  to  that  soldierly , 
simplicity  of  character  which  has  always 
been  the  best  representative  of  the  mili- 
tary profession.  In  higher  regions  it  is 
otherwise ;  for  the  higher  a  man's  rank, 
the  more  he  must  look  around  him :  then 
arise  interests  on  every  side,  and  a  mani- 
fold activity  of  the  passions  of  good  and 
bad.  Envy  and  generosity,  pride  and 
humility,  fierceness  and  tenderness,  all 
may  appear  as  active  powers  in  this 
great  drama. 

21. — Peeuliaritg  of  mind. 

The  peculiar  characteristics  of  mind  in 
the  chief  actor  have,  as  well  as  those  of 
the  feelings,  a  high  importance.  From 
an  imaginative,  flighty,  inexperienced 
head»  and  from,  a  cabn,  sagacious  under- 
standing, different  things  are  to  be 

22. — From  the  diversity  in  mental  indi^ 
vidttalitieSf  arisee  the  diversity  of  ways 
leading  to  the  aim. 

It  is  this  great  diversity  in  mental 
individuality,  the  influence  of  which  is  to 
be  supposed  as  chiefly  felt  in  the  higher 
ranks,  because  it  increases  upwards, 
which  chiefly  produces  the  diversity  of 
ways  leading  to  the  end,  noticed  by  us  in 
the  first  book,  and  which  g^ves  over  to 
the  play  of  probabilities  and  chance,  such 
an  unequal  share  in  events. 

23. — Second  peculiarity,  living  reaction. 

The  second  peculiarity  in  war  is  the 
living  reaction,  and  the  reciprocal  action 



[book  n. 

resulting  therefrom.  We  do  not  here 
speak  of  the  difficulty  of.  estimating  that 
reaction,  for  that  is  included  in  the  diffi- 
culty before-mentioned,  of  treating  the 
moral  powers  as  quantities ;  but  of  this, 
that  reciprocal  action,  by  its  nature, 
opposes  anything  like  a  regular  plan. 
The  effect  which  any  measure  produces 
upon  the  enemy  is  the  most  distinct 
of  all  the  data  which  action  affords ;  but 
every  theory  must  keep  to  classes  (or 
groups)  of  phenomena,  and  can  never 
take  up  the  really  individual  case  in 
itself:  that  must  everywhere  be  left  to 
judgment  and  talent.  It  is,  therefore, 
natural  that  in  a  business  such  as  war, 
which  in  its  plan — ^built  upon  general 
circumstances — is  so  often  thwarted  by 
unexpected  and  singular  accidents,  more 
must  generally  be  left  to  talent ;  and  less 
use  can  be  made  of  a  theoretical  guide 
than  in  any  other. 

24. — Third  peculiarity — unetrtainty  of  all 


Lastly,  the  great  uncertainty  of  all 
data  in  war  is  a  peculiar  difficulty,  be- 
cause all  action  must,  to  a  certain  extent, 
be  planned  in  a  mere  twilight,  which  in 
addition  not  unfrequently— like  the  effect 
of  a  fog  or  moonshine — g^ves  to  things 
exaggerated  dimensions  and  an  un- 
natural appearance. 

What  this  feeble  light  leaves  indistinct 
to  the  sight,  talent  must  discover,  or  must 
be  left  to  chance.  It  is  therefore  again 
talent,  or  the  favour  of  fortune,  on  which 
reliance  must  be  placed,  for  want  of 
objective  knowledge. 

25. — Positive  theory  is  impossible. 

Witli  materials  of  this  kind  we  can 
only  say  to  ourselves,  that  it  is  a  sheer 
impossibility  to  construct  for  the  art  of 
war  a  theory  which,  like  a  scaffolding, 
shall  ensure  to  the  chief  actor  an  external 
support  on  all  sides.    In  all  those  cases 

in  which  he  is  thrown  upon  his  talent  he 
would  find  himself  away  from  this  scaf- 
folding of  theory,  and  in  opposition  to  it, 
and,  however  many-sided  it  might  be 
framed,  the  same  result  would  ensue  of 
which  we  spoke  when  we  said  that  talent 
and  genius  act  beyond  the  law,  and  theory 
is  in  opposition  to  reality. 

26. — Means  left  by  which  a  theory  ts  pos- 


{27ie  difficulties  are  not  everywhere  equally 


Two  means  present  themselves  of  get- 
ting out  of  this  difficulty.  In  the  first 
place,  what  we  have  said  of  the  nature 
of  military  action  in  general,  does  not 
apply  in  the  same  manner  to  the  action 
of  every  one,  whatever  may  be  his  stand- 
ing. In  the  lower  ranks  the  spirit  of 
self-sacrifice  is  called  more  into  request, 
but  the  difficulties  which  the  understand- 
ing and  judgment  meet  with  are  infinitely 
less.  The  field  of  occurrences  is  more 
confined.  Ends  and  means  are  fewer  in 
number.  Data  more  distinct;  mostly 
also  contained  in  the  actually  visible. 
But  the  higher  we  ascend  the  more  the 
difficulties  increase ;  until,  in  the  com- 
mander-in-chief, they  reach  their  climax: 
so  that  with  him  almost  everything  must 
be  left  to  genius. 

Further,  according  to  a  division  of  the 
subject  in  agreement  toith  its  naUtre^  the 
difficulties  are  not  everywhere  the  same, 
but  diminish  the  more  results  manifest 
themselves  in  the  material  world;  and 
increase  the  more  they  pass  into  the 
moral,  and  become  motives  which  influ- 
ence the  will.  Therefore  it  is  easier  to 
determine,  by  theoretical  rules,  the  order 
and  conduct  of  a  battle,  than  the  use  to 
be  made  of  the  battle  itself.  Yonder 
physical  weapons  clash  with  each  other, 
and  although  mind  is  not  wanting  therein, 
matter  must  have  its  rights.  But  in  the 
effects  to  be  produced  by  battles  when 
the  material  results  become  motives,  we 

CHAP,  n.] 



have  only  to  do  with  the  moral  nature. 
In  a  word,  it  is  easier  to  make  a  theory 
for  taetict  than  for  strategy, 

27. — Theory  mtut  he  of  the  nature  ofobaerva^ 
tion,  not  of  doctrine. 

The  second  opening  for  the  possibility 
of  a  theory  lies  in  the  point  of  view  that 
it  does  not  necessarily  require  to  be  a 
direction  for  action.  As  a  general  rule, 
whenever  an  activity  is  for  the  most  part 
occupied  with  the  same  objects  over  and 
over  again,  with  the  same  ends  and 
means,  although  there  may  be  trifling 
alterations,  and  a  corresponding  number 
of  varieties  of  combination,  such  things 
are  capable  of  becoming  a  subject  of 
Btudy  for  the  reasoning  faculties.  But 
Buch  study  is  just  the  most  essential  part 
of  every  theory,  and  has  a  peculiar  title  to 
that  name.  It  is  an  analytical  investiga- 
tion of  the  subject  that  leads  to  an 
exact  knowledge ;  and  if  brought  to  bear 
on  the  results  of  experience,  which  in  our 
ease  would  be  military  history,  to  a 
thorough  familiarity  with  it  The  nearer 
theory  attains  the  latter  object  so  much  the 
more  it  passes  over  from  the  objective 
form  of  Knowledge  into  the  subjective 
one  of  skill  in  action ;  and  so  much  the 
more,  therefore,  it  will  prove  itself  effec- 
tive when  circumstances  allow  of  no  other 
decision  but  that  of  personal  talents ;  it 
will  show  its  effects  in  that  talent  itself. 
If  theory  investigates  the  subjects  which 
constitute  war  ;  if  it  separates  more  dis- 
tinctly that  which  at  first  sight  seems 
amalgamated;  if  it  explains  fully  the 
properties  of  the  means ;  if  it  shows  their 
probable  effects ;  if  it  makes  evident  the 
nature  of  objects ;  if  it  brings  to  bear  all 
over  the  field  of  war  the  light  of  essen- 
tially critical  investigation, — then  it  has 
fulfilled  the  chief  duties  of  its  province. 
It  becomes,  then,  a  guide  to  him  who 
wishes  to  make  himself  acquainted  with 
war  from  books ;  it  lights  up  the  whole 
road  for  him,   feicilitates  his  progress. 

educates  his  judgment^  and  shields  him 
frtim  error. 

If  a  man  of  expertness  spends  half  his 
life  in  the  endeavour  to  clear  up  an  ob- 
scure subject  thoroughly,  he  will  pro- 
bably know  more  about  it  than  a  person 
who  seeks  to  master  it  in  a  short  time. 
Theory  is  instituted  that  each  person 
in  succession  may  not  have  to  go  through 
the  same  labour  of  clearing  the  ground 
and  toiling  through  it,  but  may  find  the 
thing  in  order,  and  light  admitted  on  it. 
It  should  educate  the  mind  of  the  future 
leader  in  war,  or  rather  guide  him  in  his 
self-instruction,  but  not  accompany  him 
to  the  field  of  battle  :  just  as  a  sensible 
tutor  forms  and  enlightens  the  opening 
mind  of  a  youth  without,  therefore,  keep- 
ing him  in  leading  strings  all  through 
his  life. 

If  maxims  and  rules  result  of  them- 
selves from  the  considerations  which 
theory  institutes,  if  the  truth  concretes 
itself  in  that  form  of  crystal,  then  theory 
will  not  oppose  this  natural  law  of  the 
mind  ;  it  will  rather,  if  the  arch  ends  in 
such  a  keystone,  bring  it  prominently 
out;  but  it  does  this  only  in  order  to 
satisfy  the  philosophical  law  of  reason, 
in  order  to  show  distinctly  the  point  to 
which  the  lines  all  converge,  not  in  order 
to  form  out  of  it  an  algebraical  formula 
for  the  battle-field :  for  even  these  maxims 
and  rules  also  are  more  to  determine  in 
the  reflecting  mind  the  leading  outline  of 
its  habitual  movements,  than  to  serve  as 
landmarks  indicating  to  it  the  way  in  the 
act  of  execution. 

28. — By  this  point  of  view  Theory  hecomea 
possible,  and  ceases  to  be  in  contradiction 
to  practice. 

Taking  this  point  of  view,  there  is  a 
possibility  afforded  of  a  satisfactory,  that 
is,  of  a  useful  theory  of  the  conduct  of 
war,  never  coming  into  opposition  with 
the  reality,  and  it  will  only  depend  on 
rational  treatment  to  bring  it  so  far  into 



[book  n. 

harmony  with  action,  that  between  theory 
and  practice  there  shall  no  longer  be  that 
absurd  difference  which  an  unreasonable 
theory,  in  defiance  of  common  sense,  has 
often  produced,  but  which,  just  as  often, 
narrow-mindedness  and  ignorance  have 
used  as  a  pretext  for  giving  way  to  their 
natural  incapacity. 

29. — Theory^  therefore^  considers  the  nature 
of  ends  and  means — Ends  and  means  in 

Theory  has,  therefore,  to  consider  the 
nature  of  the  means  and  ends. 

In  tactics  the  means  are  the  disciplined 
armed  forces  which  are  to  carry  on  the 
contest.  The  object  is  victory.  The  pre- 
cise definition  of  this  conception  can  be 
better  explained  hereafter  in  the  conside- 
ration of  the  combat.  Here  we  content 
ourselves  by  denoting  the  retirement  of 
the  enemy  from  the  field  of  battle  as  the 
sign  of  victory.  By  means  of  this  victory 
strategy  gains  the  object  for  which  it  ap- 
pointed the  combat,  and  which  constitutes 
its  special  signification.  This  significa- 
tion has  certainly  some  influence  on  the 
nature  of  the  victory.  A  victory  which 
is  intended  to  weaken  the  enemy's  armed 
forces  is  a  different  thing  to  one  which 
is  designed  only  to  put  us  in  possession 
of  a  position.  The  signification  of  a 
combat  may  therefore,  have  a  sensible 
influence  on  the  prepcLration  and  conduct 
of  it,  consequently  will  be  also  a  subject 
of  consideration  in  tactics. 

80. — Circumstances  which  always  attend  the 
application  of  the  Means, 

As  there  are  certain  circumstances 
which  attend  the  combat  throughout,  and 
have  more  or  less  influence  upon  its  re- 
sult, therefore  these  must  be  taken  into 
consideration  in  the  application  of  the 
armed  forces. 

Those  circumstances  are  the  locality  of 
the  combat  (ground),  the  time  of  day, 
and  the  weather. 

31.— Locality. 

The  locality,  which  we  prefer  leaving 
for  solution,  under  the  head  of  '  Country 
and  Ground,'  might,  strictly  speaking, 
be  without  any  influence  at  all  if  the 
combat  took  place  on  a  completely  level 
and  uncultivated  plain. 

In  a  country  of  steppes  such  a  case 
may  occur,  but  in  the  cultivated  coun- 
tries of  Europe  it  is  almost  an  imaginary 
idea.  Therefore,  a  combat  between 
civilised  nations,  in  which  country  and 
ground  have  no  influence,  is  hardly  con- 

32.— TVmtf  of  Day. 

The  time  of  day  influences  the  combat 
by  the  difference  between  day  and  night ; 
but  the  influence  naturally  extends  further 
than  just  to  the  limits  of  these  divisions, as 
every  combat  has  a  certain  duration,  and 
great  battles  last  for  several  hours.  In 
the  preparations  for  a  great  battle,  it 
makes  an  essential  difference  whether 
it  begins  in  the  morning  or  the  evening. 
At  the  same  time  certainly  many  battles 
may  be  fought,  in  which  the  question  of 
the  time  of  day  is  quite  immaterial,  and 
in  the  generality  of  cases  its  influence  is 
only  trifling. 

Z3.— Weather. 


Still  more  rarely  has  the  weather  any 
decisive  influence,  and  it  is  mostly  only 
by  fogs  that  it  plays  a  part, 

34. — Mid  and  Means  in  Strategy. 

Strategy  has  in  the  first  instance  only 
the  victory,  that  is,  the  tactical  result,  as 
a  means  to  its  object,  and,  ultimatelyi 
those  things  which  lead  directly  to  peace. 
The  application  of  its  means  to  this  ob- 
ject is  at  the  same  time  attended  by  cir- 
cumstances which  have  an  influence 
thereon  more  or  less* 

CHAP.  n.J 



35. — Cireumstanees  ichieh  aiiend  the  appli- 
cation of  the  Means  of  Strategy. 

These  circumstances  are  country  and 
g^und;  the  former  including  the  terri- 
tory and  inhabitants  of  the  whole  theatre 
of  war ;  next  the  time  of  the  day  and  the 
time  of  the  year  as  well ;  lastly,  the 
weather,  particularly  any  unusual  state 
of  the  same,  severe  frost,  &c. 

86. — Theeeform  new  Means, 

By  bringing  these  things  into  combi- 
nation with  the  results  of  a  combat, 
strategy  gives  this  result,  and,  therefore, 
the  combat — a  special  signification,  places 
before  it  a  particular  object.  But  when 
this  object  is  not  that  which  leads 
directly  to  peace,  therefore  a  subordinate 
one,  it  is  only  to  be  looked  upon  as  a 
means ;  and,  therefore,  in  strategy  we 
may  look  upon  the  results  of  combats 
or  victories,  in  all  their  different  signifi- 
cations, as  means.  The  conquest  of  a 
position  is  such  a  result  of  a  combat  ap- 
plied to  ground.  But  not  only  are  the 
different  combats  with  special  objects  to 
be  considered  as  means,  but  also  every 
higher  aim  which  we  may  have  in  view 
in  the  combination  of  battles  directed  on 
a  common  object,  is  to  be  regarded  as  a 
means.  A  winter  campaign  is  a  combi- 
nation of  this  kind  applied  to  the  season. 

There  remain,  therefore,  as  objects, only 
those  things  which  may  be  supposed 
as  leading  directly  to  peace.  Theory  in- 
vestigates all  these  ends  and  means  ac- 
cording to  the  nature  of  their  effects  and 
their  mutual  relations. 

87. — Strategy  deduces  only  from  experience 
the  Ends  and  Means  to  he  examined. 

The  first  question  is,  How  does  strategy 
arrive  at  a  complete  list  of  these  things  ? 
If  there  is  to  be  a  philosophical  inquiry 
leading  to  an  absolute  resiQt,  it  would 
become  entangled  in  all  those  difficultieB 

which  the  logical  necessity  of  the  con- 
duct of  war  and  its  theory  exclude.  It, 
therefore,  turns  to  experience,  and  directs 
its  attention  on  those  combinations  which 
military  history  can  furnish.  In  this 
manner,  no  doubt,  nothing  more  than  a 
limited  theory  can  be  obtained,  which 
only  suits  circumstances  such  as  are  pre- 
sented in  history.  But  this  incomplete- 
ness is  unavoidable;  because  in  any  case 
theory  must  either  have  deduqed  from, 
or  have  compared  with,  history,  what 
it  advances  with  respect  to  things.  Be- 
isides  this  incompleteness  in  every  case  is 
more  theoretical  than  real. 

One  great  advantage  of  this  method  is 
that  theory  cannot  lose  itself  in  abstruse 
disquisitions,  subtleties,  and  chimeras, 
but  must  always  remain  practical. 

88. — ITow  far  the  analysis  of  the  means 
should  be  carried. 

Another  question  is,  How  far  theory 
should  go  in  its  analysis  of  the  means  ? 
Evidendy  only  so  far  as  the  elements  in 
a  separate  form  present  themselves  for 
consideration  in  practice.  The  range  and 
effect  of  different  weapons  is  very  impor- 
tant to  tactics ;  their  construction,  al* 
though  these  effects  result  from  it,  is  a 
matter  of  indifference ;  for  the  conduct  of 
war  is  not  making  powder  and  cannon 
out  of  a  given  quantity  of  charcoal,  sul- 
phur, and  saltpetre,  of  copper  and  tin : 
the  given  quantities  for  the  conduct 
of  war  are  arms  in  a  finished  state 
and  their  effects.  Strategy  makes 
use  of  plans  without  troubling  itself 
about  triangulations ;  it  does  not  en- 
quire how  the  country  is  subdivided 
into  departments  and  provinces,  and  how 
the  people  are  educated  and  governed  in 
order  to  attain  the  best  military  results ; 
but  it  takes  things  as  it  finds  them  in  the 
community  of  European  states,  and  ob- 
serves where  very  different  conditions 
have  a  notable  influence  on  war. 



[book  n. 

89. — Great  aimplifieation  of  the  knowledge 


That  in  this  manner  the  number  of 
Bubjecta  for  theory  is  much  8impli£ed, 
and  the  knowledge  requisite  for  the  eon- 
duct  of  war  much  reduQed,  is  easy  to  per- 
ceive. The  very  great  mass  of  knowledge 
and  appliances  of  skill  which  minister  to 
the  action  of  war  in  general,  and  which 
are  necessary  before  an  army  fully 
equipped  can  take  the  field,  unite  in  a 
few  great  results  before  they  are  able  to 
reach,  in  actual  war,  the  final  goal  of  their 
activity ;  just  as  the  streams  of  a  country 
unite  themselves  in  rivers  before  they 
fall  into  the  sea.  Only  those  activities 
emptying  themselves  directly  into  the  sea 
of  war,  have  to  be  studied  by  him  who  is 
to  conduct  its  operations. 

40. — Tliie  explains  the  rapid  growth  of 
great  generah^  and  %ohy  a  general  ie  not  a 
man  of  learning. 

This  result  of  our  considerations  is  in 
fact  so  necessary,  that  any  other  would 
have  made  us  distrustful  of  their  accu- 
racy. Only  thus  is  explained  how  so 
often  men  have  made  their  appearance 
with  great  success  in  war,  and  indeed  in 
the  higher  ranks,  even  in  supreme  com- . 
mand,  whose  pursuits  had  been  pre- 
viously of  a  totally  different  nature; 
indeed  how,  as  a  rule,  the  most  distin- 
guished generals  have  never  risen  from 
the  very  learned,  or  really  erudite  glass 
of  officers,  but  have  been  mostly  men 
who,  from  the  circumstances  of  their  posi- 
tion, could  not  have  attained  to  any  great 
amount  of  knowledge.  On  that  account 
those  who  have  considered  it  necessary, 
or  even  beneficial  to  commence  the  educa- 
tion of  a  future  general  by  instruction  in 
all  details,  have  always  been  ridiculed  as 
absurd  pedants.  It  would  be  easy  to  show 
the  injurious  tendency  of  such  a  course, 
because  the  human  mind  is  trained  by 
the  knowledge  imparted  to  it,  and  the 

direction  given  to  its  ideas.  Only  what 
is  great  can  make  it  great ;  the  little  can 
only  make  it  little,  if  the  mind  itself  does 
not  reject  it  as  something  repugnant. 

41. — Former  contradictions. 

Because  this  simplicity  of  knowledge 
requisite  in  war  was  not  attended  to,  but 
that  knowledge  was  always  jumbled  up 
with  the  whole  impedimenta  of  subordi- 
nate  sciences  and  arts;  therefore  the 
palpable  opposition  to  the  events  of  real 
life  which  resulted,  could  not  be  solved 
otherwise  than  by  ascribing  it  all  to 
genius,  which  requires  no  theoiy,  and 
for  which  no  theory  could  be  prescribed. 

42. — On  this  account  all  use  of  knowledge 
was  denied^  and  everything  ascribed  to 
natural  talents. 

People  with  whom  common  sense  had 
the  upper  hand,  felt  sensible  of  the  im- 
mense distance  remaining  to  be  filled  up 
between  a  genius  of  the  highest  order  and 
a  learned  pedant ;  and  they  became  free* 
thinkers  in  a  manner,  rejected  all  belief 
in  theory,  and  affirmed  the  conduct  of  war 
to  be  a  natural  function  of  man,  which 
he  performs  more  or  less  well  according 
as  he  has  brought  with  him  into  the 
world  more  or  less  talent  in  that  direction. 
It  cannot  be  denied  that  these  were 
nearer  to  the  truth  than  those  who  placed 
a  value  on  false  knowledge  :  at  the  same 
time  it  may  be  soon  seen  that  such  a  view 
is  nothing  but  an  exaggeration.  No  ac- 
tivity of  the  human  understanding  ia 
possible  without  a  certain  stock  of  ideas ; 
but  these  are,  for  the  greater  part  at  least, 
not  innate  but  acquired,  and  constitute 
his  knowledge.  The  only  question  there* 
fore  is,  of  what  kind  should  these  ideas 
be ;  and  we  think  we  have  answered  it  if 
we  say  that  they  should  be  directed  on 
those  things  which  man  has  directly  to 
deal  with  in  war. 

CHAP,  n.] 



43. — The  knowledge  must  h$  made  suitable 

to  the  position. 

Inside  this  field  itself  of  military  ac- 
tivity, the  knowledge  required  must  be 
different  according  to  the  station  of  the 
Command  er.  It  will  be  directed  on  smaller 
and  more  circumscribed  objects  if  he 
holds  an  inferior,  upon  greater  and  more 
comprehensive  ones  if  he  holds  a  higher 
situation.  There  are  Field  Marshals  who 
at  the  head  of  a  cavalry  regiment  would 
not  have  shone,  and  vice  versa. 

44. — 2^  Knowledge  in  war  is  very  simple, 
hit  not,  at  the  same  time,  very  easy. 

But  although  the  knowledge  in  war 
is  simple,  that  is  to  say  directed  to  so 
few  subjects,  and  taking  up  those  only 
in  their  final  results,  the  art  of  execution 
is  not,  at  the  same  time,  easy  on  that  ac- 
count. Of  the  difficulties  to  which  activity 
in  war  is  subj  ect  generally,  we  have  already 
spoken  in  &e  first  book ;  we  here  omit 
those  things  which  can  only  be  overcome 
by  courage,  and  maintain  that  also 
the  activity  of  mind  properly  called  is 
only  simple  and  easy  in  inferior  stations, 
but  increases  in  difficulty  with  increase 
of  rank,  and  in  the  highest  position, 
in  that  of  Commander-in-chief,  is  to 
be  reckoned  among  the  most  difficidt 
which  there  is  for  the  human  mind. 

45. — Of  the  nature  of  this  knowledge. 

The  Commander  of  an  army  neither 
requires  to  be  a  learned  explorer  of  his- 
tory nor  a  publicist,  but  he  must  be  well 
versed  in  the  higher  affairs  of  State ;  he 
must  know  and  be  able  to  judge  correctly 
of  traditional  tendencies,  interests  at 
stake,  the  immediate  questions  at  issue, 
and  the  characters  of  leading  persons ;  he 
need  not  be  a  close  observer  of  men,  a 
sharp  dissector  of  human  character,  but 
he  must  know  the  character,  the  feelings, 
the  habits,  the  peculiar  faults  and  incli- 
nations of  those  whom  he  is  to  command. 

He  need  not  understand  anything  about 
the  make  of  a  carriage,  or  the  harness  of  a 
Battery  horse,  but  he  must  know  how 
to  calculate  exactly  the  march  of  a  column, 
under  different  circumstances,  according 
to  the  time  it  requires.  These  are  things 
the  knowledge  of  which  cannot  be  forced 
out  by  an  apparatus  of  scientific  formula 
and  machinery :  they  are  only  to  be  gained 
by  the  exercise  of  an  accurate  judgment 
in  the  observation  of  things  and  of  men, 
aided  by  a  special  talent  for  the  appre- 
hension  of  both. 

The  necessary  knowledge  for  a  high 
position  in  military  action  is  therefore 
distinguished  by  this,  that,  by  observa- 
tion, therefore  by  study  and  reflection, 
it  is  only  to  be  attained,  through  a  special 
talent,  which  as  an  intellectual  instinct 
understands  how  to  extract  from  the 
phenomena  of  life  only  the  essence  or 
spirit,  as  bees  do  the  honey  from  the 
flowers ;  and  that  it  is  also  to  be  gained 
by  experience  of  life  as  well  as  by  study 
and  reflection.  Life  will  never  bring 
forth  a  Newton  or  an  Euler  by  its  rich 
teachings,  but  it  may  bring  forth  great 
calculators  in  war,  such  as  Cond6  or 

It  is,  therefore,  not  necessary  that,  in 
order  to  vindicate  the  intellectual  dignity 
of  military  activity,  we  should  resort  to 
untruth  and  silly  pedantry.  There  never 
has  been  a  great  and  distinguished  com- 
mander of  a  contracted  mind ;  but  very 
numerous  are  the  instajices  of  men  who, 
after  serving  with  the  greatest  distinc- 
tion in  inferior  positions,  remained  below 
mediocrity  in  the  highest,  from  insuffi- 
ciency of  intellectual  capacity.  That 
even  amongst  those  holding  the  post  of 
Commanders-in-Chief  there  may  be  a 
difference  according  to  the  degree  of 
their  plenitude  of  power  is  a  matter  of 

46. — Science  must  become  Art. 

Now  we  have  yet  to  consider  one  con- 
dition which  is  more  necessary  for  the 


Oir  WAR. 

[book  n. 

knowledge  of  the  conduct  of  war  than  for 
anj  other,  which  is,  that  it  must  pass 
completely  into  the  mind  and  almost 
completely  cease  to  be  something  objec- 
tive. In  almost  all  other  arts  and  occu- 
pations of  life  the  active  agent  can  make 
use  of  truths  which  he  has  only  learnt 
once,  and  in  the  spirit  and  sense  of  which 
he  no  longer  lives,  and  which  he  extracts 
from  dusty  books.  Even  truths  which 
he  has  in  hand  and  uses  daily  may  con- 
tinue something  external  to  himself.  If 
the  architect  takes  up  a  pen  to  settle  the 
strength  of  a  pier  by  a  complicated  cal- 
culation, the  truth  found  as  a  result  is  no 
emanation  from  his  own  mind.  He  had 
£b:st  to  find  the  data  with  labour,  and 
then  to  submit  these  to  an  operation  of 
the  mind,  the  rule  for  which  he  did  not 
discover,  the  necessity  of  which  he  is  per- 
haps at  the  moment  only  partly  conscious 
of,  but  which  he  applies,  for  the  most  part, 
as  if  by  mechanical  dexterity.  But  it  is 
never  so  in  war.  The  moral  reaction, 
the  ever-changeful  form  of  things,  makes 
it  necessary  for  the  chief  actor  to  carry 
in  himself  the  whole  mental  apparatus 
of  his  knowledge,  that  anywhere  and  at 
every  pulse-beat  he  may  be  capable  of 
giving  the  requisite  decision  from  him- 
self. Knowledge  must,  by  this  complete  * 
assimilation  with  his  own  mind  and  life, 
be  converted  into  real  power.  This  is 
the  reason  why  everything  seems  so  easy 
with  men  distinguished  in  war,  and  why 

everything  is  ascribed  to  natural  talent. 
"We  say  natural  talent,  in  order  thereby 
to  distinguish  it  from  that  which  is 
formed  and  matured  by  observation  and 

We  think  that  by  these  reflections  we 
have  explained  the  problem  of  a  theory 
of  the  conduct  of  war,  and  pointed  out 
the  way  to  its  solution. 

Of  the  two  fields  into  which  we  have 
divided  the  conduct  of  war,  tactics  and 
strategy,  the  theory  of  the  latter  contains 
unquestionably,  as  before  observed,  the 
greatest  difficulties,  because  the  first  is 
almost  limited  to  a  circumscribed  field  of 
objects,  but  the  latter  in  the  direction  of 
objects  leading  directly  to  peace,  opens  to 
itself  an  unlimited  field  of  possibilitiea. 
But  as  for  the  most  part  the  Commander- 
in-Chief  only  has  to  keep  these  objects 
steadily  in  view,  so  therefore,  the  part  of 
strategy  in  which  he  moves  is  also  that 
which  is  particularly  subject  to  this  diffi- 

Theory,  therefore,  especially  where 
it  comprehends  the  highest  services, 
will  stop  much  aodner  in  strategy  than 
in  tactics  at  the  simple  consideration 
of  things,  and  content  itself  to  assist 
the  Commander  to  that  insight  into 
things  which,  blended  with  his  whole 
thought,  makes  his  course  easier  and 
surer,  never  forces  him  into  opposition 
with  himself  in  order  to  obey  an  objec- 
tive truth. 

cnAF.  m.] 





1. — Usage  »t%tt  unsettled. 

(Power  and  Knowledge,    Seience  when  mere 
knowing;  Art,  when  doing  i$  the  ohjeet,) 

The  choice  between  these  terms  seems 
to  be  still  undecided,  and  no  one  seems 
to  know  rightly  on  what  grounds  it 
should  be  decided,  and  yet  the  thing 
is  simple.  We  have  already  said  else- 
where that  knowing  is  something  dif- 
ferent from  doing.  The  two  are  so 
different  that  they  should  not  easily  be 
mistaken  the  one  for  the  other.  The 
doing  cannot  properly  stand  in  any  book, 
and  therefore,  also.  Art  should  never  be 
the  title  of  a  book.  But  because  we 
have  once  accustomed  ourselves  to  com- 
bine in  conception,  under  the  name  of 
theory  of  Art,  or  simply  Art,  the  branches 
of  knowledge  (which  may  be  separately 
pure  sciences),  necessary  for  the  practice 
of  an  art :  therefore,  it  is  consistent  to 
continue  this  ground  of  distinction,  and 
to  call  eyerythmg  Art  when  the  object  is 
to  carry  out  the  doing  (being  able),  as 
for  example,  Art  of  building ;  Science, 
when  merely  knowledge  is  the  object; 
as  Science  of  Mathematics,  of  Astronomy. 
That  in  every  art  certain  complete  sciences 
may  be  included  is  intelligible  of  itself, 
and  should  not  perplex  us.  But  stUl  it 
is  worth  observing  that  there  is  also  no 
science  without  a  mixture  of  art.  In 
mathematics,  for  instance,  the  use  of 
figures  and  of  algebra  is  an  art,  but  that 
is  only  one  amongst  many  instances. 
The  reason  is,  that  however  plain  and 
palpable  the  difference  is  between  know- 
ledge and  power  in  the  composite  results 
of  human  knowledge,  yet  it  is  difficult  to 

track  out  their  line  of  separation  in  man 

2. — Difficulty  of  separating  pere^tion  from 


{Art  of  War). 

All  thinking  is  indeed  art.  Where  the 
logician  draws  the  line,  where  the  pre- 
mises stop  which  are  the  result  of  cog- 
nition— where  judgment  begins,  there 
art  begins.  But  more  than  this :  even 
the  perception  of  the  mind  is  judgment 
again,  and  consequently  art ;  and  at  last, 
even  the  perception  by  the  senses  as  well. 
In  a  word,  if  it  is  impossible  to  imagine 
a  human  being  possessing  merely  the 
faculty  of  cognition,  devoid  of  judgment 
or  the  reverse,  so  also  art  and  science 
can  never  be  completely  separated  from 
each  other.  The  more  these  subtle  ele- 
ments of  light  embody  themselves  in  the 
outward  forms  of  the  world,  so  much  the 
more  separate  appear  their  domains ;  and 
now  once  more,  where  the  object  is  crea- 
tion and  production,  there  is  ^e  province 
of  art ;  where  the  object  is  investiga- 
tion and  knowledge  science  holds  sway. 
-^ After  all  this  it  residts  of  itself,  that  it 
is  more  fitting  to  say  art  of  war  than 
science  of  war. 

So  much  for  this,  because  we  cannot 
do  without  these  conceptions.  But  now 
we  come  forward  with  the  assertion,  that 
war  is  neither  an  art  nor  a  science  in  the 
real  signification,  and  that  it  is  just  the 
setting  out  from  that  starting-point  of 
ideas  whiph  has  led  to  a  wrong  direction 
being  taken,  which  has  caused  war  to  be 



[book  il 

put  on  a  par  with  other  arts  and  sciences, 
and  has  led  to  a  number  of  erroneous 

This  has  indeed  been  felt  before  now, 
and  on  that  account  it  was  maintained 
that  war  is  a  handicraft ;  but  there  was 
more  lost  than  gained  by  that,  for  a 
handicraft  is  only  an  inferior  art,  and  as 
such  is  also  subject  to  definite  and  rigid 
laws.  In  reality  the  art  of  war  did  go 
on  for  some  time  in  the  spirit  of  a  handi- 
craft ;  we  allude  to  the  times  of  the  Con- 
dottieri ;  but  then  it  had  that  direction, 
not  from  intrinsic  but  from  external 
causes ;  and  military  history  shows  how 
little  it  was  at  that  time  in  accordance 
with  the  nature  of  the  thing,  or  satis- 

3. — War  U  part  of  the  tntsrcoune  of  the 

human  race. 

We  say  therefore,  war  belongs  not  to 
the  province  of  arts  and  sciences,  but  to 
the  province  of  social  life.  It  is  a  con- 
flict of  great  interests  which  is  settled  by 
bloodshed,  and  only  in  that  is  it  differ- 
ent from  others.  It  would  be  better, 
instead  of  comparing  it  with  any  art,  to 
liken  it  to  trade,  which  is  also  a  conflict 
of  human  interests  and  activities ;  and  it 
is  still  more  like  State  policy,  which  again, 
on  its  part,  may  be  looked  upon  as  a  kind 
of  trade  on  a  great  scale.  Besides,  State 
policy  is  the  womb  in  which  war  is  deve- 
loped, in  which  its  outlines  lie  hidden  in 
a  rudimentary  state,  like  the  qualities  of 
living  creatures  in  their  germs. 

4. — Difference, 

The  essential  difference  consists  in  this, 
that  war  is  no  activity  of  the  will,  which 
exerts  itself  upon  inanimate  matter  like 
the  mechanical  arts;  or  upon  a  living, 
but  still  passive  and  yielding  subject,  like 
tl^e  human  mind  and  the  human  feelings 
in  the  ideal  arts;  but  against  a  living 
and  re-acting  force.  How  little  the  cate- 
gories of  arts  and  sciences  are  applicable 
to  such  an  activity  strikes  us  at  once ; 
and  we  can  understand,  at  the  same  time, 
how  that  constant  seeking  and  striving 
after  laws  like  those  which  may  be  deve- 
loped out  of  the  dead,  material  world, 
could  not  but  lead  to  constant  errors. 
And  yet  it  is  just  the  mechanical  arts  that 
some  people  would  imitate  in  the  art  of 
war.  The  imitation  of  the  ideal  arts  was 
quite  out  of  the  question,  because  these 
themselves  dispense  too  much  with  laws 
and  rules,  and  those  hitherto  tried  always 
acknowledged  as  insufficient  and  one- 
sided, are  perpetually  undermined  and 
washed  away  by  the  current  of  opinions, 
feelings,  and  customs. 

Whether  such  a  conflict  of  the  living, 
as  takes  place  cmd  is  settled  in  war  rests, 
subject  to  general  laws,  and  whether 
these  are  capable  of  indicating  a  useful 
line  of  action,  will  be  partly  investigated 
in  this  book  ;  but  so  much  is  evident  in 
itself,  that  this,  like  every  other  subject 
which  does  not  surpass  our  powers  of 
understanding,  may  be  lighted  up,  and 
be  made  more  or  less  plain  in  its  inner 
relations  by  an  enquiring  mind,  and  that 
alone  is  sufficient  to  realise  the  idea  of  a 

CHAP.   IV.] 





Ik  order  to  explain  otarBelyes  clearly  as 
to  the  conception  of  method  and  method 
of  action  which  play  such  an  important 
part  in  war,  we  must  be  allowed  to  cast 
a  hasty  glance  at  the  logical  hierarchy, 
through  which,  as  through  reg^arly  con- 
stituted official  functionaries,  the  world 
of  action  is  goremed. 

LdWj  in  the  widest  sense  strictly  apply- 
ing to  perception  as  well  as  action,  has 
plainly  something  subjectiye  and  arbi« 
trary  in  its  literal  meaning,  and  still 
expresses  just  that  on  which  we  and 
those  things  external  to  us  are  dependent. 
As  a  subject  of  cognition,  Law  is  the 
relation  of  things  and  their  effects  to  one 
another ;  as  a  subject  of  the  will  it  is  a 
motive  of  action,  and  is  then  equivalent 
to  eommmnd  or  prohibitum. 

Principle  is  likewise  such  a  law  for 
action,  except  that  it  has  not  the  formal 
definite  meaning,  but  is  only  the  spirit 
and  sense  of  law  in  order  to  leave  the 
judgment  more  freedom  of  application 
when  the  diversity  of  the  real  world  can« 
not  be  laid  hold  of  under  the  definite 
form  of  a  Law.  As  the  judgment  must 
of  itself  suggest  the  cases  in  which  the 
principle  is  not  applicable,  the  latter 
therefore  becomes  in  that  way  a  real 
aid  or  guiding  star  for  the  person  act- 

Principle  is  objective  when  it  is  the 
result  of  objective  truth,  and  consequently 
of  equal  value  for  all  men ;  it  is  subjec- 
tive, and  then  generally  called  Maxim  if 
there  are  subjective  relations  in  it,  and 
if  it  therefore  has  a  certain  value  only 
for  the  person  himself  who  makes  it. 

Rule  is  frequently  taken  in  the  sense 

of  Law^  and  then  means  the  same  as 
Principle f  for  we  say  '*  no  Bule  without 
exceptions,"  but  we  do  not  say  ''  no  Law 
without  exceptions,'*  a  sig^  that  with 
Rule  we  retain  to  ourselves  more  freedom 
of  application. 

In  another  meaning  Rule  is  the  means 
used  of  discerning  a  recondite  truth  in  a 
particular  sign  lying  dose  at  hand,  in 
order  to  attach  to  this  particular  sign  the 
law  of  action  directed  upon  the  whole 
truth.  Of  this  kind  are  all  the  rules  of 
games  of  play,  all  abridged  processes  in 
mathematics,  &c. 

Directions  and  instructions  are  deter- 
minations of  action  which  have  an  in- 
fluence upon  a  number  of  minor  circum- 
stances too  numerous  and  unimportant 
for  general  laws. 

Lastly,  Method^  mode  of  acting,  is  an 
always  recurring  proceeding  selected  out 
of  several  possible  ones ;  and  Methodicism 
(MsTHODisMus)  is  that  which  is  deter- 
mined by  Methods  instead  of  by  general 
principles  or  particular  prescriptions.  By 
this  the  cases  which  are  placed  under 
such  methods  must  necessarily  be  sup- 
posed alike  in  their  essential  parts.  As 
they  cannot  all  be  this,  then  the  point  is 
that  at  least  as  many  as  possible  should 
be ;  in  other  words  that  Method  should 
be  calculated  on  the  most  probable  cases. 
Methodicism  is  therefore  not  founded 
on  determined  particular  premises,  but 
on  the  average  probability  of  cases  one 
with  another ;  and  its  ultimate  tendency 
is  to  set  up  an  average  truth,  the  con- 
stant and  uniform  application  of  which 
soon  acquires  something  of  the  nature 
of  a   mechanical   appliance,    which    in 



[book  it. 

the  end  does  that  whlcli  is  right  ahnost 

The  conception  of  Law  in  relation  to 
perception,  is  not  necessary  for  the 
conduct  of  war,  because  the  complex 
phenomena  of  war  are  not  so  regular 
and  the  regular  are  not  so  complex  that 
we  should  gain  anything  more  by  this 
conception  than  by  the  simple  truth. 
And  where  a  simple  conception  and  lan- 
guage is  sufficient,  to  resort  to  the  com- 
plex becomes  affected  and  pedantic. 
The  conception  of  law  in  relation  to 
action  cannot  be  used  in  the  theory  of 
the  conduct  of  war,  because  owing  to  the 
variableness  and  diversity  of  the  pheno- 
mena there  is  in  it  no  determination 
of  such  a  general  nature  as  to  deserve 
the  name  of  law. 

But  principles,  rules,  prescriptions,  and 
methods  are  conceptions  indispensable  to 
a  theory  of  the  conduct  of  war,  in  so  far 
as  that  theory  leads  to  positive  doctrines ; 
because  in  doctrines  the  truth  can  only 
crystallise  itself  in  such  forms. 

As  tactics  is  the  branch  of  the  conduct 
of  war  in  which  theory  can  attain  the 
nearest  to  positive  doctrine,  therefore 
in  it  these  conceptions  will  appear  most 

Not  to  use  cavalry  against  unbroken 
infantry  except  in  some  case  of  special 
emergency ;  only  to  use  firearms  within 
effective  range  in  the  combat;  to  spare 
the  forces  as  much  as  possible  for  the 
final  struggle,  these  are  tactical  prin- 
ciples. None  of  them  can  be  applied 
absolutely  in  every  case,  but  they  must 
always  be  present  to  the  mind  of  the 
chief,  in  onier  that  the  benefit  of  the 
truth  contained  in  them  may  not  be  lost 
in  cases  where  that  truth  can  be  of  advan- 

If  from  the  unusual  cooking  by  an 
enemy's  corps  his  movement  is  inferred, 
if  the  intentional  exposure  of  troops  in  a 
combat  indicates  a  false  attack,  then  this 
way  of  discerning  the  truth  is  called  rule, 
because  from  a  single  visible  circum- 

stance that  conclusion  is  drawn  which 
corresponds  with  the  same. 

If  it  is  a  rule  to  attack  the  enemy  with 
renewed  vigour,  as  soon  as  he  begins  to 
Umber  up  his  artillery  in  the  combat, 
then  on  this  particidar  fact  depends  a 
course  of  action  which  is  aimed  at  the 
general  situation  of  the  enemy  as  inferred 
from  the  above  fact,  namely,  that  he  is 
about  to  give  up  the  fight,  that  he  is 
commencing  to  draw  off  his  troops,  and 
is  neither  capable  of  making  a  serious 
stand  while  thus  drawing  off,  nor  of 
making  his  retreat  gradually  in  good 

Hegtdaticns  and  methods  bring  prepara- 
tory theories  into  the  conduct  of  war, 
in  so  far  that  disciplined  troops  are  in- 
oculated with  them  as  active  principles. 
The  whole  body  of  instructions  ^for  for- 
mations, exercise,  and  field  service,  are 
regulations  and  methods ;  in  the  exercise 
instructions  the  first  predominate,  in  the 
field  service  instructions  the  latter.  To 
these  things  the  real  conduct  of  war 
attaches  itself ;  it  takes  them  over,  there- 
fore, as  given  modes  of  proceeding,  and 
as  such  they  must  appear  in  the  theory 
of  the  conduct  of  war. 

But  for  those  activities  retaining  free- 
dom in  the  employment  of  these  forces, 
there  cannot  be  regulations,  that  is,  defi- 
nite instructions,  because  they  would  do 
away  with  freedom  of  action.  Methods, 
on  the  other  hand,  as  a  general  way 
of  executing  duties  as  they  arise,  calcu- 
lated, as  we  have  said,  on  an  average 
of  probability,  or  as  a  dominating  in- 
fluence of  principles  and  rules  carried 
through  to  application,  may  certainly 
appear  in  the  theory  of  the  conduct 
of  war,  provided  only  they  are  not 
represented  as  something  different  to 
what  they  are,  not  represented  as  the 
absolute  and  necessary  modes  of  action 
(systems), .  but  as  the  best  of  general 
forms  which  may  be  used  as  shorter 
ways  in  place  of  a  particular  disposi- 
tion for  the  occasion  at  discretion. 

CHAP,  m.] 



But  the  frequent  application  of  methods 
will  be  seen  to  be  most  essential  and  un- 
avoidable in  the  conduct  of  war,  if  we' 
reflect  how  much  action  proceeds  on  mere 
conjecture,  or  in  complete  uncertainty, 
because  one  side  is  prevented  from  learn- 
ing all  the  circumstances  which  influence 
the  dispositions  of  the  other,  or  because, 
even  if  these  circumstances  which  in- 
fluence the  decisions  of  the  one  were 
really  known,  there  is  not,  owing  to  their 
extent  and  the  dispositions  they  would 
entail,  su£S.cient  time  for  the  other 
to  carry  out  all  necessary  counteracting 
measures — ^that  therefore  measures  in  war 
must  always  be  calculated  on  a  certain 
number  of  possibilities.  If  we  reflect  how 
numberless  are  the  trifling  things  belong- 
ing to  any  single  event,  and  which  there- 
fore should  be  taken  into  account  along 
with  it,  and  that  therefore  there  is  no 
other  mean  3  but  to  suppose  the  one  coun- 
teracted by  the  other,  and  to  base  our 
arrangements  only  upon  what  is  of  a 
general  nature  and  probable ;  if  we  reflect 
lastly  that,  owing  to  the  increasing  num- 
ber of  officers  as  we  descend  the  scale  of 
rank,  less  must  be  left  to  the  true  dis- 
cernment and  ripe  judgment  of  indi- 
viduals the  lower  the  sphere  of  action ; 
and  that  when  we  reach  those  ranks  where 
we  can  look  for  no  other  notions  but  those 
which  the  regulations  of  the  service  and 
experience  afford,  we  must  help  them  with 
the  methodic  forms  bordering  on  those 
regulations.  This  will  serve  both  as  a 
support  to  their  judgment  and  a  barrier 
against  those  exti'avagant  and  erroneous 
views  which  are  so  especially  to  be  dreaded 
in  a  sphere  where  experience  is  so  costly. 

Besides  this  absolute  need  of  method 
in  action,  we  must  also  acknowledge  that 
it  has  a  positive  advantage,  which  is  that, 
through  the  constant  repetition  of  a  for- 
mal exercise,  a  readiness,  precision,  and 
firmness  is  attained  in  the  movement  of 
troops,  which  diminishes  the  natural 
friction,  and  makes  the  machine  move 

Method  will  therefore  be  the  more 
generally  used,  become  the  more  indis- 
pensable, the  further  down  the  scale  of 
rank  the  position  of  the  active  agent ; 
and  on  the  other  hand,  its  use  will  di- 
minish upwards,  until  in  the  highest 
position  it  quite  disappears.  For  this 
reason  it  is  more  in  its  place  in  tactics 
than  in  strategy. 

War  in  its  highest  aspects  consists  not 
of  an  inflnite  number  of  little  events,  the 
diversities  in  which  compensate  each 
other,  and  which,  therefore,  by  a  better 
or  worse  method  are  better  or  worse 
governed,  but  of  separate  great  decisive 
events  which  must  be  decdt  with  sepa- 
rately. It  is  not  a  fleld  of  stalks  which, 
without  any  regard  to  the  particular  form 
of  each  stalk,  will  be  mowed  better  or 
worse,  according  as  the  mowing  instru- 
ment is  good  or  bad;  but  large  trees, 
to  which  the  axe  must  be  laid  with  judg- 
ment, according  to  the  particular  form 
and  inclination  of  each  separate  trunk. 

How  high  up  in  military  activity  the 
admissibility  of  method  in  action  reaches 
naturally  determines  itself,  not  according 
to  actual  rank,  but  according  to  things ; 
and  it  affects  the  highest  positions  in  a 
less  degree,  only  because  these  positions 
have  the  most  comprehensive  subjects  of 
activity.  A  constant  order  of  battle,  a 
constant  formation  of  advanced  guards 
and  outposts,  are  methods  by  which  a 
genercQ  ties  not  only  his  subordinates* 
hands,  but  also  his  own  in  certain  cases. 
Certainly,  they  may  have  been  devised 
by  himself,  and  may  be  applied  by  him 
according  to  circumstances;  but  they  may 
also  be  a  subject  of  theory,  in  so  far  as 
they  are  based  on  the  general  properties 
of  troops  and  weapons.  On  the  other 
hand,  any  method  by  which  definite  plans 
for  wars  or  campaigns  are  to  be  given 
out  all  ready  made  as  if  from  a  machine 
are  absolutely  worthless. 

As  long  as  there  exists  no  theory 
which  can  be  sustained,  that  is  no  en- 
lightened treatise  on  the  conduct  of  war. 



[book  n. 

method  in  action  cannot  but  encr6ach 
beyond  its  proper  limits  in  high  places, 
for  men  employed  in  these  spheres  of 
activity  have  not  always  had  the  oppor- 
tunity of  educating  themselves,  through 
study  and  through  contact  with  the  higher 
interests :  in  the  impretcticable  and  in- 
consistent disquisitions  of  theorists  and 
critics  they  cannot  find  their  way,  their 
sound  common  sense  rejects  them,  and  as 
they  bring  with  them  no  knowledge  but 
that  derived  from  experience ;  therefore, 
in  those  cases  which  admit  of,  and 
require  a  free  individual  treatment,  they 
readily  make  use  of  the  means  which 
experience  gives  them,  that  is  an  imita- 
tion of  the  particular  methods  practised 
by  g^at  Generals,  by  which  a  method  of 
action  then  takes  place  of  itself.  If  we 
see  Frederick  the  Great's  Generals  al- 
ways making  their  appearance  in  the  so- 
called  oblique  order  of  battle,  the  Gene- 
rals of  the  French  devolution  always 
using  turning  movements  with  a  long 
extended  line  of  battle,  and  Buonaparte^s 
Lieutenants  rushing  to  the  attack  with 
the  bloody  energy  of  concentrated  masses, 
then  we  recognise  in  the  recurrence  of 
the  mode  of  proceeding  evidently  an 
adopted  method,  and  see  therefore  that 
method  of  action  can  reach  up  to  regions 
bordering  on  the  highest.  Should  an 
improved  theory  facilitate  the  study  of 
the  conduct  of  war,  form  the  mind  and 
judgment  of  men  who  are  rising  to  the 
highest  commands,  then  also  Method  in 
action  \^ill  no  longer  reach  so  far,  and  so 
much  of  it  as  is  to  be  considered  indis- 
pensable will  then  at  least  be  formed 
from  theo^  itself,  and  not  take  place  out 
of  mere  imitation.      However   preemi- 

nently a  great  Commander  does  things, 
there  is  always  something  subjective  in 
the  way  he  does  them ;  and  if  he  has  a 
certain  manner,  a  large  share  of  his  indi- 
viduality is  contained  in  it,  which  does 
not  always  accord  with  the  individuality 
of  the  person  who  copies  his  manner. 

At  the  same  time  it  would  neither  be 
possible  nor  right  to  banish  subjective 
methodicism  or  manner  completely  from 
the  conduct  of  war:  it  is  rather  to  be 
regarded  as  a  manifestation  of  that  in* 
fluence  which  the  general  character  of 
a  war  has  upon  its  separate  events,  and 
to  which  satisfaction  can  only  be  done  in 
that  way  if  theory  is  not  able  to  foresee 
this  general  character,  and  include  it  in 
its  considerations.  What  is  more  natural 
than  that  the  war  of  the  French  Bevolu- 
tion  had  its  own  way  of  doing  things? 
and  what  theory  could  ever  have  included 
that  peculiar  method  ?  The  evil  is  only 
that  such  a  manner  originating  in  a 
special  case,  easily  outlives  itself,  be- 
cause it  continues  whilst  circumstances 
imperceptibly  change.  This  is  what  the- 
ory should  prevent  by  lucid  and  rational 
criticism.  When  in  the  year  1806  the 
Prussian  Generals,  Prince  Louis  at  Saal- 
feld,  Tauentzien  on  the  Dornberg  near 
Jena,  Grawert  before  and  Biichel  behind 
Kappeldorf,  all  together  threw  them- 
selves into  the  open  jaws  of  destruction, 
with  the  oblique  order  of  Frederick  the 
Great,  and  managed  to  ruin  Hohenlohe's 
army  in  a  way  that  no  army  was  ever 
ruined,  even  on  the  field  of  battle.  All 
this  was  done  through  a  manner  which 
had  outlived  its  day,  together  with  the 
most  downright  stupidity  to  which  me- 
thodicism ever  led* 

CHAP,   v.] 





The  influence  of  theoretical  principles 
upon  real  life  is  produced  more  through 
criticiBni  than  through  doctrine,  for  as 
criticism  is  an  application  of  abstract 
truth  to  real  events,  therefore  it  not  only 
brings  truth  of  this  description  nearer  to 
life,  but  also  accustoms  tbe  understand- 
ing more  to  such  truths  by  the  constant 
repetition  of  their  application.  We, 
therefore,  think  it  necessary  to  flx  the 
point  of  view  for  criticism  next  to  that 
for  theory. 

From  the  simple  narration  of  an  histo- 
rical occurrence  which  places  events  in 
chronological  order,  or,  at  most,  only 
touches  on  their  more  immediate  causes, 
we  separate  the  critical. 

In  this  critical,  three  different  opera* 
tions  of  the  mind  may  be  observed. 

First,  the  historical  investigation  and 
determining  of  doubtful  facts.  This  is 
properly  historical  research,  and  has 
nothing  in  common  with  theory. 

Secondly,  the  tracing  of  effects  to 
causes.  This  is  the  real  critical  inquiry  ; 
it  is  indispensable  to  theory,  for  every- 
thing which  in  theory  is  to  be  established, 
supported,  or  even  merely  explained  by 
experience,  can  only  be  settled  in  this  way. 

Thirdly,  the  testing  of  the  means 
employed.  This  is  critidBtn^  properly 
•peaking^  in  which  praise  and  censure  is 
contained.  This  is  where  theory  helps 
history,  or  rather,  the  teaching  to  be  de- 
rived from  it. 

In  these  two  last  strictly  critical  parts 
of  historical  study,  all  depends  on 
tracing  things  to  their  primary  elements, 
that  is  to  say,  up  to  undoubted  truths, 
and  not,  as  is  so  often  done,  resting  half- 

way, that  is,  on  some  arbitrary  assump- 
tion or  supposition. 

As  respects  the  tracing  of  effect  to 
cause,  that  is  often  attended  with  the  in- 
superable difficulty  that  the  real  causes 
are  not  known.  In  none  of  the  relations 
of  life  does  this  so  frequently  happen  as 
in  war,  where  events  are  seldom  fully 
known,  and  still  less  motives,  as  the  latter 
have  been,  perhaps  purposely,  concealed 
by  the  chief  actor,  or  have  been  of  such  a 
transient  and  accidental  character  that 
they  have  been  lost  for  history.  For 
this  reason  critical  narration  must  gene- 
rally proceed  hand  in  hand  with  histori- 
cal investigation,  and  still  such  a  want  of 
connection  between  cause  and  effect  will 
often  present  itself  that  it  does  not  seem 
justified  in  considering  effects  as  the  ne- 
cessary results  of  known  causes.  Here, 
therefore,  voids  must  occur,  that  is,  his- 
torical results,  which  cannot  be  made  use 
of  for  teaching.  All  that  theory  can  de- 
mand is,  that  the  investigation  should  be 
rigidly  conducted  up  to  that  point  and 
there  leave  off  without  drawing  conclu- 
sions. A  real  evil  springs  up  only  if  the 
known  is  made  perforce  to  suffice  as  an 
explanation  of  effects,  and  thus  a  false 
importance  is  ascribed  to  it. 

Besides  this  difficulty,  critical  inquiry 
also  meets  with  another  great  and  in- 
trinsic one,  which  is,  that  the  progress 
of  events  in  war  seldom  proceeds  from 
one  simple  cause,  but  from  several  in 
common,  and  that  it  therefore  is  not 
sufficient  to  follow  up  a  series  of  events 
to  their  origin  in  a  candid  and  impartial 
spirit,  but  that  it  is  then  also  necessary 
to  apportion  to  each  coutributing  cause 



[book  n. 

its  due  weight.  This  leads,  therefore,  to 
a  closer  inyestigation  of  their  nature,  and 
thus  a  critical  investigation  may  lead 
into  what  is  the  proper  field  of  theory. 

The  critical  consideration^  that  is,  the 
testing  of  the  means,  leads  to  the  ques- 
tion, Which  are  the  effects  peculiar  to 
the  means  applied,  and  whether  these 
effects  were  comprehended  in  the  plans 
of  the  person  directing  ? 

The  effects  peculiar  to  the  means  lead 
to  the  inyestigation  of  their  nature,  and 
thus  again  into  the  field  of  theory. 

We  have  abready  seen  that  in  criticism 
all  depends  upon  attaining  to  positive 
truth ;  therefore,  that  we  must  not  stop 
at  arbitrary  propositions  which  are  not 
allowed  by  others,  and  to  which  other, 
perhaps,  equally  arbitrary  assertions 
may  again  be  opposed,  so  that  there  is 
no  end  to  pros  and  cons. ;  the  whole  is 
without  result,  and  therefore,  without 

We  have  seen  that  both  the  search  for 
causes,  and  the  examination  of  means, 
lead  into  the  field  of  theory ;  that  is,  into 
the  field  of  universal  truth,  which  does 
not  proceed  solely  from  the  case  immedi- 
ately under  examination.  If  there  is  a 
theory  which  can  be  used,  then  the  criti- 
cal consideration  will  appeal  to  the  proofs 
there  afforded,  and  the  examination  may 
there  stop.  £ut  where  no  such  theoretical 
truth  is  to  be  found,  the  inquiry  must  be 
pushed  up  to  the  original  elements.  If  this 
necessity  occurs  often,  it  must  lead  the  his- 
torian (according  to  a  common  expression) 
into  a  labyrinth  of  details.  He  then  has 
his  hands  full,  and  it  is  impossible  for 
him  to  stop  to  give  the  requisite  atten- 
tion everywhere ;  the  consequence  is, 
that  in  order  to  set  bounds  to  his  investi- 
gation, he  adopts  some  arbitrary  assump- 
tions which,  if  they  do  not  appear  so  to 
him,  do  so  to  others,  as  they  are  not 
evident  in  themselves  or  capable  of  proof. 

A  sound  theory  is  therefore  an  essen- 
tial foundation  for  criticism,  and  it  is 
impossible  for  it,  without  the  assistance 

of  a  sensible  theory,  to  attain  to  that 
point  at  which  it  commences  chiefly  to  be 
instructive,  that  is,  where  it  becomes 
demonstration,  both  convincing  and  sans 

But  it  would  be  a  visionary  hope  to 
believe  in  the  possibility  of  a  theory 
applicable  to  every  abstract  truth,  leaving 
nothing  for  criticism  to  do  but  to  place 
the  case  under  its  appropriate  law :  it 
would  be  ridiculous  pedantry  to  lay  down, 
as  a  rule  for  criticism,  that  it  must  al- 
ways halt  and  turn  round  on  reaching 
the  boundaries  of  sacred  theory.  The 
some  spirit  of  analytical  inquiry,  which 
is  the  origin  of  theory,  must  also  guide 
the  critic  in  his  work ;  and  it  can  and 
must  therefore  happen  that  he  strays 
beyond  the  boundaries  of  the  province  of 
theory,  and  elucidates  those  points  with 
which  he  is  more  particularly  concerned. 
It  is  more  likely,  on  the  contrary,  that 
criticism  would  completely  fail  in  its 
object  if  it  degenerated  into  a  mechanical 
application  of  theory.  All  positive  re- 
sults of  theoretical  inquiry,  all  principles, 
rules,  and  methods,  are  the  more  wanting 
in  generality  and  positive  truth  the  more 
they  become  positive  doctrine.  They 
exist  to  offer  themselves  for  use  as  re- 
quired, and  it  must  always  be  lefk  for 
judgment  to  decide  whether  they  are 
suitable  or  not.  Such  results  of  theory 
must  never  be  used  in  criticism  as  rules 
or  norms  for  a  standard,  but  in  the  same 
way  as  the  person  acting  should  use 
them,  that  is,  merely  as  aids  to  judg- 
ment. If  it  is  an  acknowledged  principle 
in  tactics  that  in  the  usual  order  of  battle 
cavalry  should  be  placed  behind  infantry, 
not  in  line  with  it,  still  it  would  be  folly* 
on  this  account  to  condemn  every  devia- 
tion from  this  principle.  Criticism  must 
investigate  the  grounds  of  the  deviation, 
and  it  is  only  in  case  these  are  insufficient 
that  it  has  a  right  to  appeal  to  principles 
laid  down  in  theory.  If  it  is  further 
established  in  theory  that  a  divided  at- 
tack diminishes  the  probability  of  sue- 

CHAP,    v.] 



cess,  still  it  would  be  just  as  unreason- 
able, whenever  there  is  a  divided  attack 
and  an  unsuccessful  issue,  to  regard  the 
latter  as  the  result  of  the  former,  without 
further  investigation  into  the  connection 
between  the  two,  or  where  a  divided 
attack  is  successful,  to  infer  £:om  it  the 
fallacy  of  that  theoretical  principle.  The 
spirit  of  investigation  which  belongs  to 
criticism  cannot  allow  either.  Criticism 
therefore  supports  itself  chiefly  on  the 
results  of  the  analytical  investigation  of 
theory;  what  has  been  made  out  and 
determined  by  theory  does  not  require 
to  be  demonstrated  over  again  by  criti- 
cism, and  it  is  so  determined  by  theory 
that  criticism  may  find  it  ready  demon- 

This  office  of  criticism,  of  examining 
the  effect  produced  by  certain  causes,  and 
whether  a  means  applied  has  answered 
its  object,  will  be  easy  enough  if  cause 
and  effect,  means  and  end,  are  all  near 

If  an  army  is  surprised,  and  therefore 
cannot  make  a  regular  and  intelligent 
use  of  its  powers  and  resources,  then 
the  effect  of  the  surprise  is  not  doubtful.-— 
If  theory  has  determined  that  in  a  battle 
the  convergent  form  of  attack  is  calcu- 
lated to  produce  greater  but  less  certain 
results,  then  the  question  is  whether  he 
who  employs  that  convergent  form  had 
in  view  chiefly  that  greatness  of  result 
as  his  object;  if  so  the  proper  means 
were  chosen.  But  if  by  this  form  he 
intended  to  make  the  result  more 
certain,  and  that  expectation  was  founded 
not  on  some  exceptional  circumstances 
(in  this  case),  but  on  the  general  nature 
of  the  convergent  form,  as  has  happened 
a  hundred  times,  then  he  mistook  the 
nature  of  the  means  and  committed  an 

Here  the  work  of  military  investigation 
and  criticism  is  easy,  and  it  will  always 
be  BO  when  conflned  to  the  immediate 
effects  and  objects.  This  can  be  done 
quite  at  option,  if  we  abstract  the  con- 

nection  of  the  parts  with   the   whole, 
and  only  look  at  things  in  that  relation. 

But  in  war,  as  generally  in  the  world, 
there  is  a  connection  between  everything 
which  belongs  to  a  whole ;  and,  therefore, 
however  small  a  cause  may  be  in  itself, 
its  effects  reach  to  the  end  of  the  act  of 
warfare,  and  modify  or  influence  the 
final  result  in  some  degree,  let  that 
degree  be  ever  so  small.  In  the  same 
manner  every  means  must  be  felt  up  to 
the  ultimate  object. 

We  can,  therefore,  trace  the  effects  of 
a  cause  as  long  as  events  are  worth 
noticing,  and  in  the  same  way  we  must 
not  stop  at  the  testing  of  a  means  for 
the  immediate  object,  but  test  also  this 
object  as  a  means  to  a  higher  one,  and 
thus  ascend  the  series  of  facts  in  succes- 
sion, until  we  come  to  one  so  absolutely 
necessary  in  its  nature  as  to  require  no 
examination  or  proof.  In  many  cases, 
particularly  in  what  concerns  g^eat  and 
decisive  measures,  the  investigation  must 
be  carried  to  the  final  aim,  to  that  which 
leads  immediately  to  peace. 

It  is  evident  that  in  thus  ascending, 
at  every  new  station  which  we  reach,  a 
new  point  of  view  for  the  judgment  is 
attained ;  so  that  the  same  means  which 
appeared  advisable  at  one  station,  when 
looked  at  from  the  next  above  it,  may 
have  to  be  rejected. 

The  search  for  the  causes  of  events, 
and  the  comparison  of  means  with  ends 
must  always  go  hcmd  in  hand  in  the 
critical  review  of  an  act ;  for  the  investiga- 
tion of  causes,  leads  us  first  to  the  dis- 
covery of  those  things  which  are  worth 

This  following  of  the  clue  up  and  down 
is  attended  with  considerable  difficulty, 
for  the  further  from  an  event  the  cause 
lies  which  we  are  looking  for,  the  greater 
must  be  the  number  of  other  causes 
which  must  at  the  same  time  be  kept  in 
view,  and  allowed  for  in  reference  to  the 
share  which  they  have  in  the  coui-se  of 
events,  and  then  eliminated,  because  the 



[book  II. 

higher  the  importance  of  a  fact,  the 
greater  will  be  the  number  of  separate 
forces  and  circumstances  by  which  it  is 
conditioned.  If  we  have  unravelled  the 
causes  of  a  battle  being  lost,  we  have 
certainly  also  ascertained  a  part  of  the 
causes  of  the  consequences  which  this 
defeat  has  upon  the  whole  war,  but  only 
a  part,  because  the  effects  of  other  causes, 
more  or  less  according  to  circumstances, 
wiU  flow  into  the  flnal  result. 

The  same  multiplicity  of  circumstances 
is  presented  also  in  the  examination  of 
the  means  the  higher  our  point  of  view  ; 
for  the  higher  the  object  is  situated,  the 
greater  must  be  the  number  of  means 
employed  to  reach  it.  The  ultimate 
object  of  the  war  is  the  object  aimed  at 
by  all  the  armies  simultaneously,  and  it 
is  therefore  necessary  that  the  considera- 
tion should  embrace  all  that  each  has 
done  or  could  have  done. 

It  is  obvious  that  this  may  sometimes 
lead  to  a  wide  field  of  inquiry,  in  which 
it  is  easy  to  wander  and  lose  the  way, 
and  in  which  this  difficulty  prevails — ^that 
a  number  of  assumptions  or  suppositions 
must  be  made  about  a  variety  of  things 
which  do  not  actually  appear,  but  which 
in  all  probability  did  take  place,  and 
therefore  cannot  possibly  be  left  out  of 

When  Buonaparte,  in  1797,*  at  the 
head  of  the  army  of  Italy,  advanced  from 
the  Tagliamento  against  the  Archduke 
Charles,  he  did  so  with  a  view  to  force 
that  general  to  a  decisive  action  before 
the  reinforcements  expected  from  the 
Bhine  had  reached  him.  If  we  look  only 
at  the  immediate  object,  the  means  were 
well  chosen  and  justified  by  the  result, 
for  the  Archduke  was  so  inferior  in  num- 
bers, that  he  only  made  a  show  of  resist- 
ance on  the  Tagliamento,  and  when  he 
saw  his  adversary  so  strong  and  resolute, 
yielded  ground,  and  left  open  the  pas- 

•  Compare  **  Hinterlassene  Werke,"  2  Auflage, 
Bd.  iv.  S.  276  ff. 

sages  of  the  Norican  Alps.  Now  to 
what  use  could  Buonaparte  turn  this  for- 
tunate event?  To  penetrate  into  the 
heart  of  the  Austrian  empire  itself,  to 
facilitate  the  advance  of  the  Rhine  armies 
under  Moreau  and  Hoche,  and  open  com- 
munication with  them  ?  This  was  the  view 
taken  by  Buonaparte,  and  from  this  point 
of  view  he  was  right.  But,  now,  if  criti- 
cism places  itself  at  a  higher  point  of 
view — namely,  that  of  the  Erench  Direc- 
tory, which  body  could  see  and  know 
that  the  armies  on  the  Bhine  could  not 
commence  the  campaign  for  six  weeks, 
then  the  advance  of  Buonaparte  over  the 
Norican  Alps  can  only  be  regarded  as  an 
extremely  hazardous  measure ;  for  if  the 
Austrians  had  drawn  largely  on  their 
Bhine  armies  to  reinforce  their  army  in 
Styria,  so  as  to  enable  the  Archduke  to 
fall  upon  the  army  of  Italy,  not  only 
would  that  army  have  been  routed,  but 
the  whole  campaign  lost.  This  conside- 
ration, which  attracted  the  serious  atten- 
tion of  Buonaparte  at  Yillach,  no  doubt 
induced  him  to  sign  the  armistice  of 
Leoben  with  so  much  readiness. 

If  criticism  takes  a  still  liigher  position, 
and  if  it  knows  that  the  Austrians  had  no 
reserves  between  the  army  of  the  Arch- 
duke Charles  and  Vienna,  then  we  see 
that  Vienna  became  threatened  by  the 
advance  of  the  army  of  Italy. 

Supposing  that  Buonaparte  knew  that 
the  capital  was  thus  uncovered,  and  knew 
that  he  still  retained  the  same  superiority 
in  numbers  over  the  Archduke  as  he  had  in 
Styria,  then  his  advance  against  the  heart 
of  the  Austrian  States  was  no  longer 
without  purpose,  and  its  value  depended 
on  the  value  which  the  Austrians  might 
place  on  preserving  their  capital.  If  that 
was  so  great  that,  rather  than  lose  it, 
they  would  accept  the  conditions  of  peace 
which  Buonaparte  was  ready  to  offer 
them,  it  became  an  object  of  the  first 
importance  to  threaten  Vienna.  If  Buona- 
parte had  any  reason  to  know  this,  then 
criticism  may   stop   there  \   but  if  this 

QHAF.   V] 



point  was  only  problematical^  then  criti- 
cism must  take  a  still  higher  position, 
and  ask  what  would  haye  followed  if  the 
Austrians  had  resolved  to  abandon  Yien- 
and    retire    farther  into  the    vast 


dominions  still  left  to  them.     But  it  is 
easy  to  see  that  this  question  cannot  be 
answered  without  bringing  into  the  con- 
sideration the  probable  movements  of  the 
Bhine  armies  on  both  sides.     Through 
the  decided  superiority  of  numbers  on 
the  side  of  the  French— 130,000  to  80,000 
-—there  could  be  little  doubt  of  the  result; 
but  then  next  arises  the  question,  What 
use  would  the  Directory  make  of  a  vic- 
tory ;   whether  they  would  follow  up  their 
success  to  the  opposite  frontiers  of  the 
Austrian  monarchy,  therefore  to  the  com- 
plete breaking  up  or  overthrow  of  that 
power,  or  whether  they  would  be  satisfied 
with  the  conquest  of  a  considerable  por- 
tion  to  serve   as  a  security  for  peace? 
The  probable  result  in  each  case  must  be 
estimated,  in  order  to  come  to  a  conclu- 
sion as  to  the  probable  determination  of 
the  Directory.     Supposing  the  result  of 
these     considerations    to     be    that  the 
French  forces  were  much  too  weak  for 
the  complete  subjugation  of  the  Austrian 
monarchy,    so  that  the   attempt  might 
completely  reverse  the  respective  posi* 
tions  of  the  contending  armies,  and  that 
even  the  conquest  and  occupation  of  a 
considerable   district  of   country  would 
place  the  French  army  in  strategic  rela- 
tions to  which  they  were  not  equal,  then 
that  result  must  naturally  influence  the 
estimate  of  the  position  of  the  army  of 
Italy,  and  compel  it  to  lower  its  expecta- 
tions.    And  this  it  was  no  doubt  which 
influenced  Buonaparte,    although    fully 
aware  of  the  helpless  condition  of  the 
Archduke,   still  to    sign   the    peace    of 
Campo  Formio,  whichimposed  no  greater 
sacrifices  on  the  Austrians  than  the  loss 
of  provinces  which,  even  if  the  campaign 
took  the  most  favourable  turn  for  them, 
they  could  not  have  reconquered.     But 
the  French  could  not  have  reckoned  on 

even  the  moderate  treaty  of  Oampo  For- 
mio, and  therefore  it  could  not  have  been 
their  object  in  making  their  bold  advance 
if  two  considerations  had  not  presented 
themselves  to  their  view,  the  first  of 
which  consisted  in  the  question,  what 
degree  of  value  the  Austrians  would 
attach  to  each  of  the  above-mentioned 
results;  whether,  notwithstanding  the 
probability  of  a  satisfactory  residt  in 
either  of  these  cases,  would  it  be  worth 
while  to  make  the  sacrifices  inseparable 
from  a  continuance  of  the  war,  when  they 
could  be  spared  those  sacrifices  by  a  peace 
on  terms  not  too  humiliating  ?  The  second 
consideration  is  the  question  whether  the 
Austrian  G-ovemment,  instead  of  seriously 
weighing  the  possible  results  of  a  resist- 
ance pushed  to  extremities,  would  not 
prove  completely  disheartened  by  the 
impression  of  their  present  reverses. 

The  consideration  which  forms  the 
subject  of  the  first  question  is  no  idle 
piece  of  subtle  argument,  but  a  considera- 
tion of  such  decidedly  practical  impor- 
tance that  it  comes  up  whenever  the  plan 
of  pushing  war  to  the  utmost  extremity 
is  mooted,  and  by  its  weight  in  most 
cases  restrains  the  execution  of  such 

The  second  consideration  is  of  equal 
importance,  for  we  do  not  make  war  with 
an  abstraction  but  with  a  reality,  which 
we  must  always  keep  in  view,  and  we 
may  be  sure  that  it  was  not  overlooked 
by  the  bold  Buonaparte — that  is — that 
he  was  keenly  alive  to  the  terror  which 
the  appearance  of  his  sword  inspired. 
It  was  reliance  on  that  which  led  him  to 
Moscow.  There  it  led  him  into  a  scrape. 
The  terror  of  him  had  been  weakened 
by  the  gigantic  struggles  in  which  he 
had  been  engaged ;  in  the  year  1797  it 
was  still  fresh,  and  the  secret  of  a  resist- 
ance pushed  to  extremities  had  not  been 
discovered;  nevertheless  even  in  1797 
his  boldness  might  have  led  to  a  negative 
result  if,  as  already  said,  he  had  not 
with  a  sort  of  presentiment  avoided  it 



[book  n. 

by  Bigning  the  moderate  peace  of  Campo 

We  must  now  bring  these  considera- 
tions to  a  close — they  will  stifiB.ce  to  show 
the  wide  sphere,  the  diversity  and  em- 
barrassing nature  of  the  subjects  em- 
braced in  a  critical  examination  carried 
to  the  fullest  extent,  that  is  to  those 
measures  of  a  great  and  decisive  class 
which  must  necessarily  be  included.  It 
follows  from  them  that  besides  a  theo- 
retical acqucdntance  with  the  subject, 
natural  talent  must  also  have  a  great 
influence  on  the  value  of  critical  exami- 
nations, for  it  rests  chiefly  with  the  lat- 
ter to  throw  the  requisite  light  on  the 
interrelations  of  things,  and  to  distinguish 
from  amongst  the  endless  connections 
of  events  those  which  are  really  essen- 

But  talent  is  also  called  into  requisition 
in  another  way.  Critical  examination  is 
not  merely  tiie  appreciation  of  those 
means  which  have  been  actually  em- 
ployed, but  also  of  all  possible  means, 
which  therefore  must  be  suggested  in 
the  first  place^that  is — must  be  dis- 
covered, and  the  use  of  any  particular 
means  is  not  fairly  open  to  censure  until 
a  better  is  pointed  out.  Now,  however 
small  the  number  of  possible  combina« 
tions  may  be  in  most  cases,  still  it  must 
be  admitted  that  to  point  out  those 
which  have  not  been  used  is  not  a  mere 
analysis  of  actual  things,  but  a  spon- 
taneous creation  which  cannot  be  pre- 
scribed, and  depends  on  the  fertility 
of  genius. 

We  are  far  from  seeing  a  field  for  great 
genius  in  a  case  which  admits  only  of  the 
application  of  a  few  simple  combinations, 
and  we  think  it  exceedingly  ridiculous  to 
hold  up,  as  is  often  done,  the  turning  of 
a  position  as  an  invention  showing  the 
highest  genius;  still  nevertheless  this 
creative  self- activity  on  the  part  of  the 
critic  is  necessary,  and  it  is  one  of 
the  points  which  essentially  determine 
the  value  of  critical  examination. 

When  Buonaparte  on  30th  July,  1796,* 
determined  to  raise  the  siege  of  Mantua, 
in  order  to  march  with  his  whole  force 
against  the  enemy,  advancing  in  separate 
columns  to  the  relief  of  the  place,  and  to 
beat  them  in  detail,  this  appeiu^  the 
surest  way  to  the  attainment  of  brilliant 
victories.  These  victories  actually  fol- 
lowed, and  were  afterwards  again  re- 
peated on  a  still  more  brilliant  scale  on 
the  attempt  to  relieve  the  place  being 
again  renewed.  We  hear  only  one  opin- 
ion on  these  achievements,  that  of  un- 
mixed admiration. 

At  the  same  time  Buonaparte  could 
not  have  adopted  this  course  on  the  dOth 
July  without  quite  giving  up  the  idea  of 
the  siege  of  Mantua,  because  it  was  im- 
possible to  save  the  siege  train,  and  it 
could  not  be  replaced  by  another  in  this 
campaign.  In  fact,  the  siege  was  con- 
verted into  a  blockade,  and  the  place, 
which  if  the  siege  had  continued  must 
have  very  shortly  fallen,  held  out  for  six 
months  in  spite  of  Buonaparte's  victories 
in  the  open  field. 

Criticism  has  generally  regarded  this 
as  an  evil  that  was  imavoidable,  because 
critics  have  not  been  able  to  suggest  any 
better  course.  Besistance  to  a  relieving 
army  within  lines  of  circumvallation  had 
fallen  into  such  disrepute  and  contempt 
that  it  appears  to  have  entirely  escaped 
consideration  as  a  means.  And  yet  in 
the  reign  of  Louis  XIY,  that  measure 
was  so  often  used  with  success  that  we 
can  only  attribute  to  the  force  of  fashion 
the  fact  that  a  hundred  years  later  it 
never  occurred  to  anyone  even  to  propose 
such  a  measure.  If  the  practicability  of 
such  a  plan  had  even  been  entertained 
for  a  moment,  a  closer  consideration  of 
circumstances  would  have  shown  that 
40,000  of  the  best  infantry  in  the  world 
under  Buonaparte,  behind  strong  lines  of 
circimivallation  round  Mantua,  had  so 

*  Compare  "  Hinterlassene  Werke,"  2  Aufiage, 
Bd.  iv.,  8.  107  ff. 

CHAP,    v.] 



little  to  fear  from  the  50,000  men  coming 
to  the  relief  under  Wurmser,  that  it  was 
yery  unlikely  that  even  any  attempt  would 
be  made  upon  their  lines.  We  shall  not 
seek  here  to  establish  this  point ;  but  we 
believe  enough  has  been  said  to  show 
that  this  means  was  one  which  had  a 
right  to  a  share  of  consideration.  Whe- 
ther Buonaparte  himself  ever  thought  of 
such  a  plan  we  leave  undecided ;  neither 
in  his  memoirs  nor  in  other  sources  is 
there  any  trace  to  be  found  of  his  having 
done  so ;  in  no  critical  works  has  it  been 
touched  upon,  the  measure  being  one 
which  the  mind  had  lost  sight  of.  The 
merit  of  resuscitating  the  idea  of  this 
means  is  not  great,  for  it  suggests  itseK 
at  once  to  anyone  who  breaks  loose  from 
the  trammels  of  fashion.  Still  it  is  neces- 
sary that  it  should  suggest  itself  for  us  to 
bring  it  into  consideration,  and  compare 
it  with  the  means  which  Buonaparte  em- 
ployed. Whatever  may  be  the  result  of 
the  comparison,  it  is  one  which  should 
not  be  omitted  by  criticism. 

When  Buonaparte,  in  February,  1814,* 
after  gaining  the  battles  at  Etoges, 
Champ- A.ubert,  and  Montmirail,  left 
Bliicher's  army,  and  turning  upon 
Schwartzenberg,  beat  his  corps  at  Mon- 
tereau  and  Mormant,  every  one  was 
filled  with  admiration,  because  Buona- 
parte, by  thus  throwing  his  concentra- 
ted force  first  upon  one  opponent, 
then  upon  another,  made  a  brilliant 
use  of  the  mistakes  which  his  adver- 
saries had  committed  in  dividing  their 
forces.  If  these  brilliant  strokes  in  dif- 
ferent directions  failed  to  save  him,  it 
was  generally  considered  to  be  no  faidt 
of  his,  at  least.  No  one  has  yet  asked 
the  question,  What  would  have  been  the 
result  if,  instead  of  turning  from  Blu- 
cher  upon  Schwartzenberg,  he  had 
tried  another  blow  at  Bliicher,  and  pur- 
sued him  to  the  Bhine?    We  are  con- 

*  Compare  *'  Hinterlaseene  Werke,"  2  Auflage, 
Bd.  vii.,  B.  193,  ff. 

vinced  that  it  would  have  completely 
changed  the  course  of  the  campaign,  and 
that  the  allied  army,  instead  of  marching 
to  Paris,  woidd  have  retired  behind  the 
Bhine.  We  do  not  ask  others  to  share 
our  conviction,  but  no  one  who  under- 
stands the  thing  will  doubt,  at  the  mere 
mention  of  this  alternative  course,  that  it 
is  one  which  should  not  be  overlooked  in 

In  this  case  the  means  of  comparison 
lie  much  more  on  the  surface  than  in  the 
foregoing,  but  they  have  been  equally 
overlooked,  because  one-sided  views  have 
prevailed,  and  there  has  been  no  freedom 
of  judgment. 

From  the  necessity  of  pointing  out  a 
better  means  which  might  have  been 
used  in  place  of  those  which  are  con- 
demned, has  arisen  the  form  of  criticism 
almost  exclusively  in  use,  which  contents 
itself  with  pointing  out  the  better  means 
without  demonstrating  in  what  the  supe- 
riority consists.  The  consequence  is  that 
some  are  not  convinced ;  that  others  start 
up  and  do  the  same  thing ;  and  that  thus 
discussion  arises,  which  is  without  any 
fixed  basis  for  the  argument.  Military 
literature  abounds  with  matter  of  this  sort. 

The  demonstration  we  require  is  al- 
ways necessary  when  the  superiority  of 
the  means  propounded  is  not  so  evident 
as  to  leave  no  room  for  doubt,  and  it 
consists  in  the  examination  of  each  of  the 
means  on  its  own  merits,  and  then  of  its 
comparison  with  the  object  desired. 
When  once  the  thing  is  traced  back  to  a 
simple  truth,  controversy  must  cease,  or 
at  all  events  a  new  result  is  obtained, 
whilst  by  the  other  plan  the  pros  and  cons. 
go  on  for  ever  consuming  each  other. 

Should  we,  for  example,  not  rest  con- 
tent with  assertion  in  the  case  before 
mentioned,  and  wish  to  prove  that  the 
persistent  pursuit  of  Bliicher  would  have 
been  more  advantageous  than  the  turning 
on  Schwartzenberg,  we  should  support 
the  arguments  on  the  following  simple 
truths : — 



[book  n. 

1.  In  general  it  is  more  advantageoua 
to  continue  our  blows  in  one  and  the 
same  direction,  because  there  is  a  loss  of 
time  in  striking  in  different  directions ; 
and  at  a  point  where  the  moral  power  is 
already  shaken  by  considerable  losses, 
there  is  the  more  reason  to  expect  fresh 
successes ;  therefore  in  that  way  no  part 
of  the  preponderance  already  gained  is 
left  idle. 

2.  Because  Bliicher,  although  weaker 
than  Schwartzenberg  was,  on  account  of 
his  enterprising  spirit,  the  more  impor- 
tant adversary;  in  him,  therefore,  lay 
the  centre  of  attraction  which  drew  the 
others  along  in  the  same  direction. 

3.  Because  the  losses  which  BlUcher 
had  sustained  almost  amounted  to  a 
defeat,  which  gave  Buonaparte  such  a 
preponderance  over  him  as  to  make  his 
retreat  to  the  Bhine  almost  certain,  and 
at  the  same  time  no  reserves  of  any  con- 
sequence awaited  him  there. 

4.  Because  there  was  no  other  result 
which  would  be  so  terrific  in  its  aspects, 
would  appear  to  the  imagination  in  such 
gigantic  proportions,  an  immense  advan- 
tage in  dealing  with  a  stciff  so  weak  and 
irresolute  as  that  of  Schwartzenberg 
notoriously  was  at  this  time.  What 
had  happened  to  the  Crown  Prince 
of  Wurtemberg  at  Montereau,  and  to 
Count  Wittgenstein  at  Mormant,  Prince 
Schwartzenberg  must  have  known  well 
enough ;  but  all  the  untoward  events  on 
Bliicher's  distant  and  separate  line  from 
the  Marne  to  the  Bhine,  would  only 
reach  him  by  the  avalanche  of  rumour. 
The  desperate  movements  which  Buona- 
parte made  upon  Vitry  at  the  end  of 
March,  to  see  what  the  Allies  would  do  if 
he  threatened  to  turn  them  strategically, 
were  evidently  done  on  the  principle  of 
working  on  their  fears  ;  but  it  was  done 
under  far  different  circumstances,  in 
consequence  of  his  defeat  at  Laon  and 
Arcis,  and  because  Blucher,  with  100,000 
men,  was  then  in  communication  with 

There  are  people,  no  doubt,  who  will 
not  be  convinced  on  these  arguments; 
but  at  all  events  they  cannot  retort  by 
sajring,  that  ''  whilst  Buonaparte  threat- 
ened Schwartzenberg' s  base  by  advan- 
cing to  the  Bhine,  Schwartzenberg  at  the 
same  time  threatened  Buonaparte's  com- 
munications with  Paris ; "  because  we 
have  shown  by  the  reasons  above  given 
that  Schwartzenberg  woidd  never  have 
thought  of  marching  on  Paris. 

With  respect  to  the  example  quoted 
by  us  from  the  campaign  of  1796,  we 
should  say :  Buonaparte  looked  upon  the 
plan  he  adopted  as  the  surest  means  of 
beating  the  Austrians;  but  admitting 
that  it  was  so,  still  the  object  to  be  at- 
tained was  only  an  empty  victory,  which 
could  have  hardly  any  sensible  influence 
on  the  faU  of  Mantua.  The  way  which 
we  should  have  chosen  would,  in  6ur 
opinion,  have  been  much  more  certain  to 
prevent  the  relief  of  Mantua ;  but  even 
if  we  place  ourselves  in  the  position  of 
the  French  general  and  assume  that  it 
was  not  so,  and  look  upon  the  certainty 
of  success  to  have  been  less,  the  question 
then  amounts  to  a  choice  between  a  more 
certain  but  less  useful,  and  therefore  less 
important  victory  on  the  one  hand,  and 
a  somewhat  less  probable  but  far  more 
decisive  and  important  victory  on  the 
other  hand.  Presented  in  this  form, 
boldness  must  have  declared  for  the 
second  solution,  which  is  the  reverse  of 
what  took  place,  when  the  thing  was  only 
superficially  viewed.  Buonaparte  cer- 
tainly was  anything  but  deficient  in  bold- 
ness ;  and  we  may  be  sure  that  he  did 
not  see  the  whole  case  and  its  conse- 
quences as  fully  and  clearly  as  we  can 
now  at  the  present  time. 

Naturally  the  critic,  in  treating  of  the 
means,  must  often  appeal  to  military 
history,  as  experience  is  of  more  value  in 
the  art  of  war  than  all  philosophical 
truth.  But  this  exemplification  from 
history  is  subject  to  certain  conditions, 
of  which  we  shall  treat  in  a  special  chap- 

CHAP,    v.] 



ter;  and  unfortunately  these  conditions 
are  bo  seldom  regarded,  that  reference  to 
history  generally  only  serves  to  increase 
the  confusion  of  ideas. 

We  have  still  a  most  important  subject 
to  consider,  which  is,  How  far  criticism 
in  passing  judgments  on  particular  events 
is  permitted,  or  in  duty  bound,  to  make 
use  of  its  wider  view  of  things,  and  there- 
fore also  of  that  which  is  shown  by 
results;  or  when  and  where  it  should 
leave  out  of  sight  these  things  in  order 
to  place  itself,  as  far  as  possible,  in  the 
exact  position  of  the  chief  actor  ? 

If  criticism  dispenses  praise  or  censure 
it  should  seek  to  place  itself  as  nearly  as 
possible  at  the  same  point  of  view  as  the 
person  acting,  that  is  to  say,  to  collect 
all  he  knew  and  all  the  motives  on  which 
he  acted,  and,  on  the  other  hand,  to 
leave  out  of  the  consideration  all  that 
the  person  acting  could  not  or  did  not 
know,  and  above  all,  the  result.  But 
this  is  only  an  object  to  aim  at,  which 
can  never  be  reached  because  the  state 
of  circumstances  from  which  an  event 
proceeded  can  never  be  placed  before  the 
eye  of  the  critic  exactly  as  it  lay  before 
the  eye  of  the  person  acting.  A  number 
of  inferior  circumstances,  which  must 
have  influenced  the  result,  are  completely 
lost  to  sight,  and  many  a  subjective  mo- 
tive has  never  come  to  light. 

The  latter  can  only  be  learnt  from  the 
memoirs  of  the  chief  actor,  or  from  his 
intimate  friends ;  and  in  such  memoirs 
things  of  this  kind  are  often  treated  of 
in  a  very  desultory  manner,  or  piirposely 
misrepresented.  Criticism  must,  there- 
fore, always  forego  much  which  was  pre- 
sent in  the  minds  of  those  whose  acts  are 

On  the  other  hand,  it  is  much  more 
diffictdt  to  leave  out  of  sight  that  which 
criticism  knows  in  excess.  This  is 
only  easy  as  regards  accidental  circum- 
stances, that  is,  circumstances  which 
have  been  mixed  up,  but  are  in  no  way 
necessarily  related.     But  it  is  very  diffi- 

cult, and,  in  fact,  can  never  be  completely 
done  with  regard  to  things  really  essential. 

Let  us  take  first  the  result.  If  it  has 
not  proceeded  from  accidental  circum- 
stances it  is  almost  impossible  that  the 
knowledge  of  it  should  not  have  an  effect 
on  the  judgment  passed  on  events  which 
have  preceded  it,  for  we  see  these  things 
in  the  light  of  this  result,  and  it  is  to  a 
certain  extent  by  it  that  we  first  become 
acquainted  with  them  and  appreciate 
them.  Military  history,  with  all  its 
events,  is  a  source  of  instruction  for  cri- 
ticism itself  and  it  is  only  natural  that 
criticism  shoidd  throw  that  light  on  things 
which  it  has  itself  obtcdned  from  the  con- 
sideration of  the  whole.  If,  therefore,  it 
might  wish  in  some  cases  to  leave  the 
result  out  of  the  consideration,  it  would 
be  impossible  to  do  so  completely. 

But  it  is  not  only  in  relation  to  the  re- 
sult, that  is,  with  what  takes  place  at 
the  last,  that  this  embarrassment  arises ; 
the  same  occurs  in  relation  to  preceding 
events;  therefore  with  the  data  which 
furnished  the  motives  to  action.  Criticism 
has  before  it,  in  most  cases,  more  infor- 
mation on  this  point  than  the  principal  in 
the  transaction.  Now  it  may  seem  easy  to 
dismiss  from  the  consideration  everything 
of  this  nature,  but  it  is  not  so  easy  as  we 
may  think.  The  knowledge  of  preced- 
ing and  concurrent  events  is  founded  not 
only  on  certain  information,  but  on  a 
number  of  conjectures  and  suppositions ; 
indeed,  there  is  hardly  any  of  the  infor- 
mation respecting  things  not  purely  acci- 
dental which  has  not  been  preceded  by 
suppositions  or  conjectures  destined  to 
take  the  place  of  certain  information  in 
case  such  should  never  be  supplied.  Now 
is  it  conceivable  that  criticism  in  after 
times,  which  has  before  it  as  facts  all 
the  preceding  and  concurrent  circum- 
stances, shoidd  not  allow  itself  to  be 
thereby  influenced  when  it  asks  itself  the 
question,  What  portion  of  the  circum- 
stances, which  at  the  moment  of  action 
were  unknown,  it  would  have  held  to  be 



[book  n. 

probable?  We  maintain  that  in  this  case, 
as  in  the  case  of  the  results,  and  for  the 
same  reason,  it  is  impossible  to  disregard 
all  these  things  completely. 

If  therefore  the  critic  wishes  to  bestow 
praise  or  blame  upon  any  single  act,  he 
can  only  succeed  to  a  certain  degree  in 
placing  himself  in  the  position  of  the 
person  whose  act  he  has  under  review. 
In  many  cases  he  can  do  so  sufficiently 
near  for  any  practical  purpose,  but  in 
many  instances  it  is  the  very  reverse, 
and  this  fact  should  never  be  overlooked. 

But  it  is  neither  necessary  nor  desir- 
able that  criticism  should  completely 
identify  itself  with  the  person  acting.  In 
war  as  in  all  matters  of  skill  there  is  a 
certain  natural  aptitude  required  which 
is  called  talent.  This  may  be  great  or 
small.  In  the  first  case  it  may  easily  be 
superior  to  that  of  the  critic ;  for  what 
critic  can  pretend  to  the  skill  of  a  Frede- 
rick or  a  Buonaparte !  Therefore,  if  cri- 
ticism is  not  to  abstain  altogether  from 
offering  an  opinion  where  eminent  talent 
is  concerned,  it  must  be  allowed  to  make 
use  of  the  advantage  which  its  enlarged 
horizon  affords.  Criticism  must  not, 
therefore,  treat  the  solution  of  a  problem 
by  a  great  General  like  a  sum  in  arith- 
metic ;  it  is  only  through  the  results  and 
through  the  exact  coincidences  of  events, 
that  it  can  recognise  with  admiration 
how  much  is  due  to  the  exercise  of 
genius,  and  that  it  first  learns  the  es- 
sential combination  which  the  glance  of 
that  genius  devised. 

But  for  every,  even  the  smallest,  act  of 
genius  it  is  necessary  that  criticism  should 
take  a  higher  point  of  view,  so  that,  hav- 
ing at  command  many  objective  grounds 
of  decision,  it  may  be  as  little  subjective 
as  possible,  and  that  the  critic  may  not 
take  the  limited  scope  of  his  own  mind 
as  a  standard. 

This  elevated  position  of  criticism,  its 

E raise  and  blame  pronounced  with  a  full 
nowledge  of  all  the  circumstances,  has 
in  itself  nothing  which  hurts  our  feelings; 

it  only  does  so  if  the  critic  pushes  him- 
self forward,  and  speaks  in  a  tone  as  if 
all  the  wisdom  which  he  has  obtained  by 
an  exhaustive  examination  of  the  event 
under  consideration  were  really  his  own 
tcdent.  Palpable  as  is  this  deception,  it 
is  one  which  people  may  easily  fall  into 
through  vanity,  and  one  which  is  natu- 
rally distasteful  to  others.  It  very  often 
happens  that  although  the  critic  has  no 
such  arrogant  pretensions,  they  are  im- 
puted to  him  by  the  reader  because  he 
has  not  expressly  disclaimed  them,  and 
then  follows  immediately  a  charge  of  a 
want  of  the  power  of  critical  judgment. 

If,  therefore,  a  critic  points  out  an 
error  made  by  a  Frederick  or  a  Buona- 
parte, that  does  not  mean  that  he  who 
makes  the  criticism  would  not  have  com- 
mitted the  same  error ;  he  may  even  be 
ready  to  grant  that  had  he  been  in  the 
place  of  these  great  generals  he  might 
have  made  much  greater  mistakes;  he 
merely  sees  this  error  from  the  chain  of 
events,  and  he  thinks  that  it  should  not 
have  escaped  the  sagacity  of  the  general. 

This  is,  therefore,  an  opinion  formed 
through  the  connection  of  events,  and 
therefore  through  the  result.  But  there  is 
another  quite  different  effect  of  the  result 
itself  upon  the  judgment,  that  is  if  it  is 
used  quite  alone  as  an  example  for  or 
against  the  soundness  of  a  measure.  This 
may  be  called  judgment  according  to  the 
reiult.  Such  a  judgment  appears  at  first 
sight  inadmissible,  and  yet  it  is  not. 

When  Buonaparte  marched  to  Mos* 
cow  in  1812,  all  depended  upon  whether 
the  taking  of  the  capital,  and  the  events 
which  preceded  the  capture,  should  force 
the  Emperor  Alexander  to  make  peace, 
as  he  had  been  compelled  to  do  after 
the  battle  of  Friedland  in  1807,  and  the 
Emperor  Francis  in  1805  and  1809  after 
Austerlitz  and  Wagram;  for  if  Buona- 
parte did  not  obtain  a  peace  at  Moscow, 
there  was  no  alternative  but  to  return, 
that  is,  there  was  nothing  for  him  but 
a  strategic  defeat.     We  shall  leave  out 

CHAP,   v.] 



of  the  question  what  he  did  to  get  to 
Moscow,  and  whether  in  his  advance 
he  did  not  miss  many  opportunities  of 
hringing  the  Emperor  Alexander  to 
peace;  we  shall  also  exclude  all  con- 
sideration of  the  disastrous  circumstances 
which  attended  his  retreat,  and  which 
perhaps  had  their  origin  in  the  general 
conduct  of  the  campaign.  StUl,  the 
question  remains  the  same ;  for  however 
much  more  brilliant  the  course  of  the 
campaign  up  to  Moscow  might  have  been, 
still  there  was  always  an  uncertainty 
whether  the  Emperor  Alexander  would  be 
intimidated  into  making  peace ;  and  then, 
even  if  a  retreat  did  not  contain  in  itself 
the  seeds  of  such  disasters  as  did  occur,  still 
it  would  never  be  anything  else  than  a 
great  strategic  defeat.  If  the  Emperor 
Alexander  agreed  to  a  peace  which  was 
disadvantageous  to  him,  the  campaign  of 
1812  would  have  ranked  with  those  of 
Austerlitz,  Friedland,  and  Wagram. 
But  these  campaigns  also,  if  they  had 
not  led  to  peace,  would  in  aU  probability 
have  ended  in  similar  catastrophes. 
"Whatever,  therefore,  of  genius,  skill, 
and  energy  the  conqueror  of  the  world 
applied  to  the  task,  this  last  question  ad- 
dressed to  fate  *  remained  always  the 
same.  Shall  we  then  discard  the  cam- 
paigns of  1805,  1807,  1809,  and  say  on 
account  of  the  campaign  of  1812  that 
they  were  acts  of  imprudence ;  that  the 
results  were  against  the  nature  of  things, 
and  that  in  1812  strategic  justice  at  last 
found  vent  for  itself  in  opposition  to  blind 
chance  ?  That  would  be  an  unwarrant- 
able conclusion,  a  most  arbitrary  judg- 
ment, a  case  only  half  proved,  because  no 
human  eye  can  trace  the  thread  of  the 
necessary  connection  of  events  up  to  the 
determination  of  the  conquered  princes. 

Still  less  can  we  say  the  campaign  of 
1812  merited  the  same  success  as  the 
others,  and  that  the  reason  why  it  turned 

*  **  Vtw  an  der  Schicksal,"  a  familiar  quotation 
from  SchiUer.— TR. 

out  otherwise,  lies  in  something  un- 
nattiral,  for  we  cannot  regard  the  firm- 
ness of  Alexander  as  something  un- 

What  can  be  more  natural  than  to  say 
that  in  the  years  1805,  1807,  1809, 
Buonaparte  judged  of  his  opponents  cor- 
rectly, and  that  in  1812  he  erred  in  that 
point.  On  the  former  occasions,  there- 
fore, he  was  right,  in  the  latter  wrong, 
and  in  both  cases  we  judge  by  the  result. 

All  action  in  war,  as  we  have  already 
said,  is  directed  on  probable,  not  on 
certain  results.  Whatever  is  wanting 
in  certainty  must  always  be  left  to 
fate,  or  chance,  call  it  which  you  will. 
We  may  demand  that  what  is  so 
left  should  be  as  little  as  possible,  but 
only  in  relation  to  the  particular  case, 
that  is,  as  little  as  is  possible  in  this  one 
case,  but  not  that  the  case  in  which  the 
least  is  left  to  chance,  is  always  to  be 
preferred.  That  would  be  an  enormous 
error,  as  follows  from  all  our  theoretical 
views.  There  are  cases  in  which  the 
greatest  daring  is  the  greatest  wisdom. 

Now  in  everything  which  is  left  to 
chance  by  the  chief  actor,  his  personal 
merit,  and  therefore  his  responsibility  as 
well,  seems  to  be  completely  set  aside ; 
nevertheless  we  cannot  suppress  an  in- 
ward feeling  of  satisfaction  whenever 
expectation  realises  itself,  and  if  it  dis- 
appoints us  our  mind  is  dissatisfied ;  and 
more  than  this  of  right  and  wrong 
should  not  be  meant  by  the  judgment 
which  we  form  from  the  mere  result,  or 
rather  that  we  find  there. 

Nevertheless,  it  cannot  be  denied  that 
the  satisfaction  which  our  mind  experi- 
ences  at  success,  the  pain  caused  by 
failure,  proceed  from  a  sort  of  myste- 
rious belief,  we  suppose  between  that 
success  ascribed  to  good  fortune  and  the 
genius  of  the  chief  a  fine  connecting 
thread,  invisible  to  the  mind's  eye,  and 
the  supposition  gives  pleasure.  What 
tends  to  confirm  this  idea  is  that  our 
sympathy  increases,  becomes  more  de- 



[book  n. 

cided,  if  tlie  successes  and  defeats  of  the 
principal  actor,  are  offcen  repeated.  Thus 
it  becomes  intelligible  how  good  luck  in 
war  assumes  a  much  nobler  nature  than 
good  luck  at  play.  In  general,  when  a  for- 
tunate warrior  does  not  otherwise  lessen 
our  interest  in  his  behalf,  we  have  a  plea- 
sure in  accompan3dng  him  in  his  career. 

Criticism,  therefore,  after  haying 
weighed  all  that  comes  within  the  sphere 
of  human  reason  and  conviction,  will  let 
the  result  speak  for  that  part  where  the 
deep  mysterious  relations  are  not  disclosed 
in  any  yisible  form,  and  he  will  protect 
this  silent  sentence  of  a  higher  authority 
from  the  noise  of  crude  opinions  on  the 
one  hand,  while  on  the  other  he  prevents 
the  gross  abuse  which  might  be  made  of 
this  last  tribunal. 

This  verdict  of  the  result  must,  there- 
fore, always  bring  forth  that  which  hu- 
man sagacity  cannot  discover ;  and  it  will 
be  chiefly  as  regards  the  intellectual 
powers  and  operations  that  it  will  be 
called  into  requisition,  partly  because 
they  can  be  estimated  with  the  least  cer- 
tainty, partly  because  their  close  connec- 
tion with  the  will  is  favourable  to  their 
exercising  over  it  an  important  influence. 
When  fear  or  bravery  precipitate  the 
decision,  there  is  nothing  objective  inter- 
vening between  them  for  our  considera- 
tion, and,  consequently,  nothing  by  which 
sagacity  and  calculation  might  have  met 
the  probable  result. 

We  must  now  be  allowed  to  make  a 
few  observations  on  the  instrument  of 
criticism,  that  is,  the  language  which  it 
uses,  because  that  is  to  a  certain  extent 
connected  with  the  action  in  war ;  for  the 
critical  examination  is  nothing  more  than 
the  deliberation  which  should  precede 
action  in  war.  We,  therefore,  think  it 
very  essential  that  the  language  used  in 
criticism  should  have  the  same  character 
as  that  which  deliberation  in  war  must 
have,  for  otherwise  it  would  cease  to  be 
practical,  and  criticism  could  gain  no  ad* 
mittance  in  actual  life. 

We  have  said  in  our  observations  on 
the  theory  of  the  conduct  of  war  that  it 
should  educate  the  mind  of  the  Comman- 
der for  war,  or  that  its  teaching  should 
guide  his  education ;  also  that  it  is  not 
intended  to  furnish  him  with  positive  doc- 
trines and  systems  which  he  can  use 
like  mental  appliances.  But  if  the  con- 
struction of  scientific  formula  is  never  re- 
qiiired  or  even  allowable  in  war  to  aid 
the  decision  on  the  case  presented,  if 
truth  does  not  appear  there  in  a  syste- 
matic shape,  if  it  is  not  found  in  an  in- 
direct way,  but  directly  by  the  natural 
perception  of  the  mind,  then  it  must  be 
the  same  also  in  a  critical  review. 

It  is  true  that  we  have  seen  that  wher* 
ever  complete  demonstration  of  the  na- 
ture of  things  would  be  too  tedious,  cri- 
ticism must  support  itself  on  those  truths 
which  theory  has  established  on  the 
point.  But,  just  as  in  war,  the  actor 
obeys  these '  theoretical  truths  rather  be- 
cause his  mind  is  imbued  with  them  than 
because  he  regards  them  as  objective  in- 
flexible laws,  so  criticism  must  also  make 
use  of  them,  not  as  an  external  law  or  an 
algebraic  formula,  of  which  fresh  proof 
is  not  required  each  time  they  are  ap- 
plied, but  it  must  always  throw  a  light 
on  this  proof  itself,  leaving  only  to 
theory  the  more  minute  and  circumstan- 
tial proof.  Thus  it  avoids  a  mysterious 
unintelligible  phraseology,  and  makes  its 
progress  in  plain  language,  that  i^  with 
a  clear  and  always  visible  chain  of 

Certainly  this  cannot  always  be  com- 
pletely attained,  but  it  must  always  be 
the  aim  in  critical  expositions.  Such  ex- 
positions must  use  complicated  forms  of 
science  as  sparingly  as  possible,  and 
never  resort  to  the  construction  of  scien- 
tific aids  as  of  a  truth  apparatus  of  its  own, 
but  always  be  guided  by  the  natural  and 
unbiassed  impressions  of  the  mind. 

But  this  pious  endeavour,  if  we  may 
use  the  expression,  has  unfortunately 
seldom    hitherto   presided    over  critical 

CRAP,  v.] 



examinatioiis :  the  most  of  them  have 
rather  been  emanations  of  a  species  of 
yanity — a  wish  to  make  a  display  of 

The  first  evil  which  we  constantly 
stumble  upon  is  a  lame,  totally  inadmis- 
sible application  of  certain  one-sided 
systems  as  of  a  formal  code  of  laws.  But 
it  is  never  difficult  to  show  the  one-sided- 
ness  of  such  systems,  and  this  only  re- 
quires to  be  done  once  to  throw  dis- 
credit for  ever  on  critical  judgments 
which  are  based  on  them.  We  have  here 
to  deal  with  a  definite  subject,  and  as  the 
number  of  possible  systems  after  all  can 
be  but  small,  therefore,  also,  they  are 
themselves  the  lesser  evil. 

Much  greater  is  the  evil  which  lies  in 
the  pompous  retinue  of  technical  terms — 
scientific  expressions  and  metaphors,  which 
systems  have  in  their  train,  and  which  like 
a  rabble — like  the  baggage  of  an  army 
broken  away  £rom  its  chief — hang  about 
in  all  directions.  Any  critic  who  has  not 
adopted  a  system,  either  because  he  has 
not  found  one  to  please  him,  or  because 
he  has  not  yet  been  able  to  make  himself 
master  of  one,  will  at  least  occasionally 
make  use  of  a  piece  of  one,  as  one  would 
use  a  ruler,  to  show  the  blunders  com- 
mitted by  a  general.  The  most  of  them 
are  incapable  of  reasoning  without  using 
as  a  help  here  and  there  some  shreds  of 
scientific  military  theory.  The  smallest 
of  these  fragments,  consisting  in  mere 
scientific  words  and  metaphors,  are  often 
nothing  more  than  ornamental  flourishes 
of  critical  narration.  Now  it  is  in  the 
nature  of  things  that  all  technical  and 
scientific  expressions  which  belong  to  a 
Bjstem,  lose  their  propriety,  if  they  ever 
had  any,  as  soon  as  they  are  distorted, 
and  used  as  general  axioms,  or  as  small 
crystal  talismans,  which  have  more  power 
of  demonstration  than  simple  speech. 

Thus  it  has  come  to  pass  that  our  theo- 
retical and  critical  books,  instead  of  being 
straightforward  intelligible  dissertations, 
in  which  the  author  always  knows  at 
least  what  he  says  and  the  reader  what 

he  reads,  are  brimful  of  these  technical 
terms,  which  form  dark  points  of  inter- 
ference where  author  and  reader  part 
company.  But  frequently  they  are  some- 
thing worse,  being  nothing  but  hollow 
shells  without  any  kernel.  The  author 
himself  has  no  clear  perception  of  what 
he  means,  contents  himself  with  vague 
ideas,  which,  if  expressed  in  plain  Lan- 
guage, would  be  unsatisfactory  even  to 

A  third  fault  in  criticism  is  the  mUvA^ 
o£  Historieal  Examples,  and  a  display  of 
great  reading  or  learning.  What  the 
history  of  the  Art  of  War  is  we  have 
already  said,  and  we  shall  further  explain 
our  views  on  examples  and  on  militcuy 
history  in  general  in  special  chapters. 
One  fact  merely  touched  upon  in  a  very 
cursory  manner  may  be  used  to  support 
the  most  opposite  views,  and  three  or 
four  such  facts  of  the  most  heterogeneous 
description,  brought  together  out  of  the 
most  distant  lands  and  remote  times  and 
heaped  up,  generally  distract  and  be- 
wilder the  judgment  and  understanding 
without  demonstrating  anything ;  for 
when  exposed  to  the  light,  they  turn  out 
to  be  only  trumpery  rubbish,  made  use 
of  to  show  off  the  author's  learning. 

But  what  can  be  gained  for  practical 
life  by  such  obscure,  partly  false,  con- 
fused, arbitrary  conceptions?  80  little 
is  gained,  that  theory  on  account  of 
them  has  always  been  a  true  antithesis 
of  practice,  and  frequently  a  subject  of 
ridicule  to  those  whose  soldierly  qualities 
in  the  field  are  above  question. 

But  it  is  impossible  that  this  could 
have  been  the  case,  if  theory  in  simple 
language,  and  by  natural  treatment  of 
those  things  which  constitute  the  art  of 
making  war,  had  merely  sought  to  estab- 
lish just  so  much  as  admits  of  being 
established ;  if,  avoiding  all  false  preten- 
sions and  irrelevant  display  of  scientific 
forms  and  historical  parallels,  it  had  kept 
dose  to  the  subject,  and  gone  hand  in 
hand  with  those  who  must  conduct  afEairs 
in  the  field  by  their  own  natural  genius. 



[book  u. 



Examples  from  history  make  everything 
clear,  and  furnish  the  best  description  of 
proof  in  the  empirical  sciences.  This 
applies  with  more  force  to  the  Art  of  war 
than  to  any  other.  General  Schamhorst, 
whose  hand-book  is  the  best  ever  written 
on  actual  war,  pronounces  historical 
examples  to  be  of  the  first  importance, 
and  makes  an  admirable  use  of  them 
himself.  Had  he  survived  the  war  in 
which  he  fell,  the  fourth  part  of  his  re- 
vised treatise  on  artillery  would  have 
given  a  still  greater  proof  of  the  observ- 
ing and  enlightened  spirit  in  which  he 
sifted  matters  of  experience. 

But  such  use  of  historical  examples  is 
rarely  made  by  theoretical  writers;  the 
way  in  which  they  more  commonly  make 
use  of  them  is  rather  calculated  to  leave 
the  mind  unsatisfied,  as  well  as  to  offend 
the  understanding.  We  therefore  think  it 
important  to  bring  specially  into  view  the 
use  and  abuse  of  historical  examples. 

Unquestionably  the  branches  of  know- 
ledge which  lie  at  the  foundation  of  the 
Art  of  War  come  under  the  denomination 
of  empirical  sciences ;  for  although  they 
are  derived  in  a  great  measure  from  the 
nature  of  things,  still  we  can  only  learn 
this  very  nature  itself  for  the  most  part 
from  experience;  and  besides  that,  the 
practical  application  is  modified  by  so 
many  circumstances,  that  the  effects  can 
never  be  completely  learnt  from  the  mere 
nature  of  the  means. 

The  effects  of  gunpowder,  that  gpreat 
agent  in  our  military  activity,  was  only 
learnt  by  experience  ;  and  up  to  this  hour 
experiments  are  continually  in  progress 
in  order  to  investigate  them  more  Mly. 

That  an  iron  ball,  to  which  powder  has 
given  a  velocity  of  1,000  feet  in  a  second, 
smashes  every  living  thing  which  it 
touches  in  its  course,  is  intelligible  in  it- 
self; experience  is  not  required  to  tell  us 
that;  but  in  producing  this  effect  how 
many  hundred  circumstances  are  con- 
cerned, some  of  which  can  only  be 
learnt  by  experience !  And  the  physical 
is  not  the  only  effect  which  we  have  to 
study,  it  is  the  moral  which  we  are  in 
search  of,  and  that  can  only  be  ascer- 
tained by  experience  ;  and  there  is  no 
other  way  of  learning  and  appreciating 
it  but  by  experience.  In  the  middle 
ages,  when  firearms  were  first  invented, 
their  effect,  owing  to  their  rude  make, 
was  materially  but  trifling  compared  to 
what  it  now  is,  but  their  effect  molrally 
was  much  greater.  One  must  have  wit- 
nessed the  firmness  of  one  of  those  masses 
taught  and  led  by  Buonaparte,  under  the 
heaviest  and  most  unintermittent  can* 
nonade,  in  order  to  understand  of  what 
troops,  hardened  by  long  practice  in  the 
field  of  danger,  can  do,  when  by  a  career 
of  victory  they  have  reached  the  noble 
principle  of  demanding  from  themselves 
their  utmost  efforts.  In  pure  conception 
no  one  would  believe  it.  On  the  other 
hand  it  is  well  known  that  there  are 
troops  in  the  service  of  European  powers  ^j^ 
at  the  present  moment  who  would  easily  *.  J.^/^, 
be   dispersed  by   a  few  cannon   shots.  ^^ji^U 

But  no  empirical  science,  consequently 
also  no  theory  of  the  art  of  war,  can 
always  corroborate  its  truths  by  his- 
torical proof ;  it  would  also  be,  in  some 
measure,  difficult  to  support  experience 
by  single  facts.    If  any  mecms  is  once 

OHAP.  v.] 



found  efficacious  in  war  it  is  repeated ; 
one  copies  another,  the  thing  becomes 
the  fashion,  and  in  this  manner  it  comes 
into  use,  supported  by  experience,  and 
takes  its  place  in  theory,  which  contents 
itself  widi  appealing  to  experience  in 
general  in  order  to  show  its  origin,  but 
not  as  a  verification  of  its  truth. 

But  it  is  quite  otherwise  if  experience 
is  to  be  used  in  order  to  overthrow  some 
means  in  use,  to  confirm  what  is  doubtful, 
or  introduce  something  new ;  then  par- 
ticular examples  £rom  history  must  be 
quoted  as  proofs. 

Now,  if  we  consider  closely  the  use  of 
historical  proofs,  four  points  of  view 
readily  present  themselves  for  the  pur- 

First,  they  may  be  used  merely  as  an 
expkmaiion  of  an  idea.  In  every  abstract 
consideration  it  is  very  easy  to  be  mis- 
understood, or  not  to  be  iatelligible  at 
all :  when  an  author  is  afraid  of  this,  an 
exemplification  from  history  serves  to 
throw  the  light  which  is  wanted  on  his 
idea,  and  to  ensure  his  being  intelligible 
to  his  reader. 

Secondly,  it  may  serve  as  an  applica- 
tion of  an  idea,  because  by  means  of  an 
example  there  is  an  opportunity  of  show- 
ing Uie  action  of  those  minor  circum- 
stances which  cannot  all  be  comprehended 
and  explained  in  any  general  expression 
of  an  idea ;  for  in  that  consists,  indeed, 
the  difference  between  theory  and  expe- 
rience. Both  these  cases  belong  to 
examples  properly  speaking,  the  two  fol- 
lowing belong  to  historical  proofs- 

Thudly,  a  historical  fact  may  be  re- 
ferred to  particularly,  in  order  to  support 
what  one  has  advanced.  This  is  in  all 
cases  sufficient,  if  we  have  only  to  prove 
the  pomhility  of  a  fact  or  effect. 

Lastly,  in  the  fourth  place,  from  the 
circumstantial  detail  of  a  historical  event, 
and  by  collecting  together  several  of 
them,  we  may  deduce  some  theory,  which 
therefore  has  its  true  proof  in  this  testi- 
mony itself. 


For  the  first  of  these  purposes  all  that 
is  generally  required  is  a  cursory  notice 
of  the  case ;  as  it  is  only  used  partially. 
Historical  correctness  is  a  secondary  con- 
sideration; a  case  invented  might  also 
serve  the  purpose  as  well,  only  historical 
ones  are  always  to  be  preferred,  because 
they  bring  the  idea  which  they  illustrate 
nearer  to  practical  life. 

The  second  use  supposes  a  more  cir- 
cumstantial relation  of  events,  but  histor- 
ical authenticity  is  again  of  secondary 
importance,  and  in  respect  to  this  point 
the  same  is  to  be  said  as  in  the  first  case. 

For  the  third  purpose  the  mere  quota- 
tion of  an  undoubted  fact  is  generally 
sufficient.  If  it  is  asserted  that  fortified 
positions  may  fulfil  their  object  imder 
certain  conditions,  it  is  only  necessary  to 
mention  the  position  of  Bunzelwitz  in 
support  of  the  assertion. 

But  if,  through  the  narrative  of  a  case 
in  history,  an  abstract  truth  is  to  be 
demonstrated,  then  everything  in  the  case 
bearing  on  the  demonstration  must  be 
analysed  in  the  most  searching  and  com- 
plete manner  ;  it  must,  to  a  certain  ex- 
tent, develop  itself  carefully  before  the 
eyes  of  the  reader.  The  less  effectually 
this  is  done  the  weaker  will  be  the  proof, 
and  the  more  necessary  it  will  be  to  sup- 
ply the  demonstrative  proof  which  is 
wanting  in  the  single  case  by  a  number 
of  oases,  because  we  have  a  right  to  sup- 
pose that  the  more  minute  details  which 
we  are  unable  to  give  neutralise  each 
other  in  their  effects  in  a  certain  number 
of  cases. 

If  we  want  to  show  by  example  derived 
from  experience,  that  cavalry  are  better 
placed  behind  than  in  a  line  with  in- 
fantiy ;  that  it  is  very  hazardous  without 
a  decided  preponderance  of  numbers  to 
attempt  an  enveloping  movement,  with 
widely  separated  columns,  either  on  a 
field  of  battle  or  in  the  theatre  of  war, 
that  is,  either  tactically  or  strategically ; 
then  in  the  first  of  these  cases  it  woidd 
not  be  sufficient  to  specify  some  lost  bat- 



[book  n. 

ties  in  which  the  cavalry  was  on  the 
flanks,  and  some  gained  in  which  the 
cavalry  was  in  rear  of  the  infantry ;  and 
in  the  latter  of  these  cases  it  is  not  suffi- 
cient to  refer  to  the  battles  of  Bivoli  and 
Wagram,  to  the  attack  of  the  Austrians 
on  the  theatre  of  war  in  Italy,  in  1796, 
or  of  the  French  upon  the  German  theatre 
of  war  in  the  same  year.  The  way  in 
which  these  orders  of  battle  or  plans  of 
attack  essentially  contributed  to  disas- 
trous issues  in  those  particular  cases  must 
be  shown  by  closely  tracing  out  circum- 
stances and  occurrences.  Then  it  will 
appear  how  far  such  forms  or  measures 
are  to  be  condemned,  a  point  which  it  is 
very  necessary  to  show,  for  a  total  con- 
demnation would  be  inconsistent  with 

It  has  been  already  said  that  when  a 
circumstantial  detail  of  facts  is  impossible, 
the  demonstrative  power  which  is  deficient 
may,  to  a  certain  extent,  be  supplied  by 
the  number  of  cases  quoted ;  but  this  is  a 
very  dangerous  method  of  getting  out  of 
the  difficulty,  and  one  which  has  been 
much  abused.  Instead  of  one  well  ex- 
plained example,  three  or  four  are  just 
touched  upon,  and  thus  a  show  is  made 
of  strong  evidence.  But  there  are  mat- 
ters where  a  whole  dozen  of  cases  brought 
forward  would  prove  nothing ;  if  for  in- 
stance, they  are  facts  of  frequent  occur- 
ranee,  and  therefore  a  dozen  other  cases 
with  an  opposite  result  might  just  as 
easily  be  brought  forward.  If  any  one 
will  instance  a  dozen  lost  battles  in  which 
the  side  beaten  attacked  in  separate  con- 
verging columns,  we  ceui  instance  a  dozen 
that  have  been  gained,  in  which  the  same 
order  was  adopted.  It  is  evident  that  in 
this  way  no  result  is  to  be  obtained. 

Upon  carefully  considering  these  dif- 
ferent points,  it  will  be  seen  how  easily 
examples  may  be  mis-applied. 

An  occurrence  which,  instead  of  being 
carefully  analysed  in  all  its  parts,  is 
superficially  noticed,  is  like  an  object 
seen  at  a  great  distance,  presenting  the 

same  appearance  on  each  side,  and  in 
which  the  details  of  its  parts  cannot  be 
disting^shed.  Such  examples  have,  in 
reality,  served  to  support  the  most  con- 
tradictory opinions.  To  some,  Daun's 
campaigns  are  models  of  prudence  and 
skill.  To  others,  they  are  nothing  but 
examples  of  timidity  and  want  of  resolu- 
tion. Buonaparte's  passage  across  the 
Noric  Alps  ^in  1797,  may  be  made  to 
appear  the  noblest  resolution,  but  also  as 
an  act  of  sheer  temerity.  His  strategic 
defeat  in  1812  may  be  represented  as 
the  consequence  either  of  an  excess  or  of 
a  deficiency  of  energy.  All  these  opin- 
ions have  been  broached,  and  it  is  easy 
to  see  that  they  might  veiy  well  arise, 
because  each  person  takes  a  difiTerent 
view  of  the  connection  of  events.  At  the 
same  time  these  antagonistic  opinions 
cannot  be  reconciled  with  each  other,  and 
therefore  one  of  the  two  must  be  wrong. 

Much  as  we  are  obliged  to  the  worthy 
Fenqui^res  for  the  numerous  examples 
introduced  in  his  memoirs — ^partly  because 
a  number  of  historical  incidents  have 
thus  been  preserved  which  might  other* 
wise  have  been  lost,  and  partly  because 
he  was  one  of  the  first  to  bring  theo- 
retical, that  is,  abstract  ideas,  into  con- 
nection with  the  practical  in  war,  in  so 
far  that  the  cases  brought  forward  may 
be  regarded  as  intended  to  exemplify  and 
confirm  what  is  theoretically  asserted^ 
yet,  in  the  opinion  of  an  impartial  reader, 
he  will  hardly  be  allowed  to  have  at- 
tained the  object  he  proposed  to  himself, 
that  of  proving  theoretical  principles  by 
historicsd  examples.  For  although  he 
sometimes  relates  occurrences  with  great 
minuteness,  still  he  falls  short  veiy  often 
of  showing  that  the  deductions  drawn 
necessarily  proceed  from  the  inner  rela- 
tions of  these  events. 

Another  evil  which  comes  from  the 
superficial  notice  of  historical  events,  is 
that  some  readers  are  either  wholly  igno- 
rant of  the  events,  or  cannot  call  them  to 
remembrance  sufficiently  to  be  able  to 




grasp  the  author's  meaning,  so  that  there 
is  no  altematiye  between  either  accepting 
blindly  what  is  said,  or  remaining  un- 

It  is  extremely  difficult  to  put  together 
or  unfold  historical  events  before  the  eyes 
of  a  reader  in  such  a  way  as  is  necessary, 
in  order  to  be  able  to  use  them  as  proofs ; 
for  the  writer  very  often  wants  the 
means,  and  can  neither  afford  the  time 
nor  the  requisite  space  ;  but  we  maintain 
that  when  the  object  is  to  establish  a 
new  or  doubtful  opinion,  one  single 
example,  thoroughly  analysed,  is 'far 
more  instructive  than  ten  which  are 
superficially  treated.  The  great  mis- 
chief of  these  superficial  representa- 
tions is  not  that  the  writer  puts  his 
story  forward  as  a  proof  when  it  has 
only  a  false  title,  but  that  he  has  not 
made  himself  properly  acquainted  with 
the  subject,  and  that  from  this  sort  of 
slovenly,  shallow  treatment  of  history, 
a  hundred  false  views  and  attempts  at 
the  construction  of  theories  arise,  which 
would  never  have  made  their  appearance 
if  the  writer  had  looked  upon  it  as  his 
duty  to  deduce  from  the  strict  connec- 
tion of  events  everything  new  which  he 
brought  to  market,  and  sought  to  prove 
from  history. 

When  we  are  convinced  of  these  diffi- 
culties in  the  use  of  historical  examples, 
and  at  the  same  time  of  the  necessity 
(of  making  use  of  such  examples),  then 
we  shall  also  come  to  the  conclusion  that 
the  latest  military  history  is  naturally  the 
best  field  from  which  to  draw  them,  inas- 
much as  it  alone  is  sufficiently  authentic 
and  detailed. 

In  ancient  times,  circumstances  con- 
nected with  war,  as  well  as  the  method 
of  carrying  it  on,  were  different ;  there- 
fore its  events  are  of  less  use  to  us  either 
theoretically  or  practically ;  in  addition 
to  which  military  history,  like  every 
other,  naturally  loses  in  the  course  of 
time  a  number  of  small  traits  and  linea- 
ments originally  to  be   seen,   loses  in 

colour  and  life,  like  a  worn  out  or  dark- 
ened picture ;  so  that  perhaps  at  last 
only  the  large  masses  and  leading  fea- 
tures remain,  which  thus  acquire  undue 

If  we  look  at  the  present  state  of  war** 
fare,  we  should  say  that  the  wars  since 
that  of  the  Austrian  succession  are  almost 
the  only  ones  which,  at  least  as  far  as 
armament,  have  still  a  considerable  simi- 
larity to  the  present,  and  which,  notwith- 
standing the  many  important  changes 
which  have  taken  place  both  great  and 
small,  are  still  capable  of  affording  much 
instruction.  It  is  quite  otherwise  with 
the  war  of  the  Spanish  succession,  as  the 
use  of  fire-arms  had  not  then  so  far 
advanced  towards  perfection,  and  cavalry 
still  continued  the  most  important  arm. 
The  farther  we  go  back,  the  less  useful 
becomes  military  history,  as  it  gets  so 
much  the  more  meagre  and  barren '  of 
detail.  The  most  useless  of  all  is  that  of 
the  old  world. 

But  this  uselessness  is  not  altogether 
absolute,  it  relates  only  to  those  subjects 
which  depend  on  a  knowledge  of  minute 
details,  or  on  those  things  in  which  the 
method  of  conducting  war  has  changed. 
Although  we  know  very  little  about  the 
tactics  in  the  battles  between  the  Swiss 
and  the  Austrians,  the  Burgundians  and 
French,  still  we  find  in  them  unmistake- 
able  evidence  that  they  were  the  first  in 
which  the  superiority  of  a  good  infantry 
over  the  best  cavalry  was  displayed.  A 
general  glance  at  the  time  of  the  Condot- 
tieri  teaches  us  how  the  whole  method  of 
conducting  war  is  dependant  on  the  in- 
strument used  j  for  at  no  period  have  the 
forces  used  in  war  had  so  much  the  cha- 
racteristics of  a  special  instrument,  and 
been  a  class  so  totally  distinct  from  the 
rest  of  the  national  community.  The 
memorable  way  in  which  the  Bomans  in 
the  second  Punic  War  attacked  the  Car- 
thaginian possessions  in  Spain  and  Africa, 
while  Hannibal  stiU  maintained  himself 
in  Italy,  is  a  most  instructive  subject  to 



[book  n. 

Btudy,  as  the  general  relations  of  the 
states  and  armieB  concerned  in  this  indi- 
rect act  of  defence  are  sufficiently  well 

But  the  more  things  descend  into 
particnlarsi  and  deviate  in  character 
from  the  most  general  relations,  the  less 
we  can  look  for  examples  and  lessons  of 
experience  from  yeiy  remote  periods,  for 
we  have  neither  the  means  of  judging 
properly  of  corresponding  events,  nor  can 
we  apply  them  to  our  completely  different 
method  of  war. 

Unfortunately,  however,  it  has  always 
been  the  fashion  with  historical  writers 
to  talk  about  ancient  times.  We  shall 
not  say  how  far  vanity  and  charlatanism 
may  have  had  a  share  in  this,  but  in 
general  we  fail  to  discover  any  honest 
intention  and  earnest  endeavour  to  in- 
struct and  convince,  and  we  can  therefore 

only  look  upon  such  quotations  and  re- 
ferences as  embellishments  to  fill  up  g^ps 
and  hide  defects. 

It  would  be  an  immense  service  to 
teach  the  art  of  war  entirely  by  historical 
examples,  as  Fenqui^es  proposed  to  do ; 
but  it  would  be  full  work  for  the  whole 
life  of  a  man,  if  we  reflect  that  he  who 
undertakes  it  must  first  qualify  himself 
for  the  task  by  a  long  personal  experience 
in  actual  war. 

Whoever,  stirred  by  ambition,  under- 
takes such  a  task,  let  him  prepare  him- 
self for  his  pious  undertaking  as  for  a 
long  pilgrimage;  let  him  give  up  his 
time,  spare  no  sacrifice,  fear  no  temporal 
rank  or  power,  and  rise  above  all  feelings 
of  personal  vanity,  of  false  shame,  in 
order,  according  to  the  French  code,  to 
speak  the  Truths  the  whole  2huhf  and 
nothing  but  the  Ihith. 





The  conception  of  strategy  has  been 
settled  in  the  second  chapter  of  the 
second  book.  It  is  the  employment  of 
the  battle  to  gain  the  object  of  the  war. 
Properly  speaking  it  has  to  do  with  no- 
thing but  the  battle,  but  its  theoiy  must 
include  in  this  consideration  the  instru- 
ment of  this  real  activity — ^the  armed 
force-— in  itself  and  in  its  principal  rela- 
tionsy  for  the  battle  is  fought  by  it,  and 
shows  its  effects  upon  it  in  turn.  It  must 
be  well  acquainted  with  the  battle  itself 
as  far  as  relates  to  its  possible  results, 
and  those  mentcd  and  moral  powers  which 
are  the  most  important  in  the  use  of  the 

Strategy  is  the  employment  of  the 
battle  to  gain  the  end  of  the  war ;  it  must 
therefore  give  an  aim  to  the  whole  mili- 
tary action,  which  must  be  in  accord- 
ance with  the  object  of  the  war ;  in  other 
words,  strategy  forms  the  plan  of  the 
war,  and  to  the  said  aim  it  links  the 
series  of  acts  which  are  to  lead  to  the 
same,  that  is  to  say,  it  makes  the  plans 
for  the  separate  campaigns,  and  regu- 
lates the  combats  to  be  fought  in  each. 
As  these  are  all  things  which  to  a  great 
extent  can  only  be  determined  on  conjec- 
tures, some  of  which  turn  out  incorrect, 
while  a  number  of  other  arrangements 

pertaining  to  details  cannot  be  made  at 
all  beforehand,  it  follows,  as  a  matter  of 
course,  that  strategy  must  go  with  the 
army  to  the  field  in  order  to  arrange  par- 
ticulars on  the  spot,  and  to  ms&e  the 
modifications  in  the  general  plan  which 
incessantly  become  necessary  in  war. 
Strategy  can  therefore  never  take  its 
hand  Som  the  work  for  a  moment. 

That  this  however  has  not  been  always 
the  view  taken,  generally,  is  evident  from 
the  former  custom  of  keeping  strategy  in 
the  cabinet  and  not  with  the  army,  a 
thing  only  allowable  if  the  cabinet  is  so 
near  to  the  army  that  it  can  be  taken  for 
the  chief  head-quarters  of  the  army. 

Theory  will  therefore  attend  on  stra- 
tegy in  the  determination  of  its  plans,  or, 
as  we  may  more  properly  say,  it  will 
throw  a  light  on  things  in  themselves, 
and  in  their  relations  to  each  other,  and 
bring  out  prominently  the  little  that  there 
is  of  principle  or  rule. 

If  we  recall  to  mind  from  the  first 
chapter  how  many  things  of  the  highest 
importance  war  touches  upon,  we  may 
conceive  that  a  consideration  of  aU  re- 
quires a  rare  grasp  of  mind. 

A  prince  or  general  who  knows  exactly 
how  to  organise  his  war  according  to  his 
object  and  means,  who  does  neither  too 



[book  in. 

little  nor  too  much,  gives  by  that  the 
greatest  proof  of  his  genius.  But  the 
effects  of  this  talent  are  exhibited  not  so 
much  by  the  invention  of  new  modes  of 
action,  which  might  strike  the  eye  imme- 
diately, as  in  the  successful  final  result  of 
the  whole.  It  is  the  exact  fulfilment  of 
silent  suppositions,  it  is  the  noiseless 
harmony  of  the  whole  action  which  we 
should  admire,  and  which  only  makes 
itself  known  in  the  total  result. 

The  inquirer  who,  tracing  back  from 
the  final  result,  does  not  perceive  the 
signs  of  that  harmony  is  one  who  is  apt 
to  seek  for  genius  where  it  is  not,  and 
where  it  cannot  be  found. 

The  means  and  forms  which  strategy 
uses  are  in  fact  so  extremely  simple,  so 
well  known  by  their  constant  repetition, 
that  it  only  appears  ridicidous  to  sound 
conmion  sense  when  it  hears  critics  so 
frequently  speaking  of  them  with  high- 
flown  emphasis.  Turning  a  flank,  which 
has  been  done  a  thousand  times,  is  re- 
garded here  as  a  proof  of  the  most  bril- 
liant genius,  there  as  a  proof  of  the  most 
profound  penetration,  indeed  even  of  the 
most  comprehensive  knowledge.  Can 
there  be  in  the  book-world  more  absurd 
productions  ? 

It  is  stiU  more  ridiculous  if,  in  addition 
to  this,  we  reflect  that  the  same  critic,  in 
accordance  with  prevalent  opinion,  ex- 
cludes all  moral  forces  from  theory,  and 
will  not  allow  it  to  be  concerned  with 
anything  but  the  material  forces,  so  that 
all  must  be  confined  to  a  few  mathe- 
matical relations  of  equilibrium  and  pre- 
ponderance, of  time  and  space,  and  a  few 
lines  and  angles.  If  it  were  nothing 
more  than  this,  then  out  of  such  a  miser- 
able business  there  would  not  be  a  scien- 
tific problem  for  even  a  schoolboy. 

But  lot  us  admit:  there  is  no  question 
here  about  scientific  formulas  and  pro- 
blems ;  the  relations  of  material  things 
are  all  very  simple;  the  right  compre- 
hension of  the  moral  forces  which  come 
into  play  is  more  difficult.     Still,  even  in 

respect  to  them,  it  is  only  in  the  highest 
branches  of  strategy  that  moral  compli- 
cations and  a  great  diversity  of  quantities 
and  relations  are  to  be  looked  for,  only 
at  that  point  where  strategy  borders  on 
political  science,  or  rather  where  the 
two  become  one,  and  there,  as  we  have 
before  observed,  they  have  more  influ- 
ence on  the  **how  much"  and  "how 
little  "is  to  be  done  than  on  the  form 
of  execution.  Where  the  latter  is  the 
principal  question,  as  in  the  single  acts 
both  great  and  small  in  war,  the  moral 
quantities  are  already  reduced  to  a  very 
small  number. 

Thus,  then,  in  strategy  ever3rthing  is 
very  simple,  but  not  on  &at  account  very 
easy.  Once  it  is  determined  from  the 
relations  of  the  state  what  should  and 
may  be  done  by  war,  then  the  way  to  it 
is  easy  to  find ;  but  to  follow  that  way 
straightforward,  to  carry  out  the  plan 
without  being  obliged  to  deviate  from  it 
a  thousand  times  by  a  thousand  varying 
influences,  that  requires,  besides  great 
strength  of  character,  great  clearness  and 
steadiness  of  mind,  and  out  of  a  thou- 
sand men  who  are  remarkable,  some  for 
xnind,  others  for  penetration,  others  again 
for  boldness  or  strength  of  will,  perhaps 
not  one  will  combine  in  himself  cdl  those 
qualities  which  are  required  to  raise  a 
man  above  mediocrity  in  the  career  of  a 

It  may  sound  strange,  but  for  all  who 
know  war  in  this  respect  it  is  a  fact 
beyond  doubt,  that  much  more  strength 
of  will  is  required  to  make  eui  impor- 
tant decision  in  strategy  than  in  tactics. 
In  the  latter  we  are  hurried  on  with 
the  moment ;  a  commander  feels  himself 
borne  along  in  a  strong  current,  against 
which  he  durst  not  contend  without  the 
most  destructive  consequences,  he  sup- 
presses the  rising  fears,  and  boldly  ven- 
tures further.  In  strategy,  where  all 
goes  on  at  a  slower  rate,  there  is  more 
room  allowed  for  our  own  apprehen- 
sions and  those  of  others,  for  objections 

GOAF.  I.] 



and  remonstrances,  consequently  also  for 
nnseasonable  regrets ;  and  as  we  do  not 
see  things  in  strategy  as  we  do  at  least 
half  of  them  in  tactics,  with  the  living 
eye,  but  everything  must  be  conjectured 
and  assumed,  therefore  the  convictions 
produced  are  less  powerful.  The  conse* 
quence  is,  that  most  generals  when  they 
should  act,  remain  stuck  fast  in  bewilder- 
ing doubts. 

Now  let  us  cast  a  glance  at  history-^ 
it  lights  upon  Frederick  the  Ghreat's  cam- 
paign of  1760,  celebrated  for  its  fine 
marches  and  manoeuvres :  a  perfect  mas- 
terpiece of  strategic  skill  as  critics  tell 
us.  Is  there  really  anything  to  drive  us 
out  of  our  wits  with  admiration  in  the 
king's  first  trying  to  turn  Daun's  right 
flank,  then  his  left,  then  again  his  right, 
&c.  ?  Are  we  to  see  profound  wisdom  in 
this  ?  No,  that  we  cannot,  if  we  are  to 
decide  naturally  and  without  affectation. 
What  we  rather  admire  above  all  is  the 
sagacity  of  the  king  in  this  respect,  that 
while  pursuing  a  great  object  with  very 
limited  means,  he  tmdertook  nothing  be- 
yond his  powers,  and  jwi  enough  to  gain 
his  object.  This  sagacity  of  the  general 
is  visible  not  only  in  this  campaign,  but 
throughout  all  the  three  wars  of  the 
great  king ! 

To  bring  Silesia  into  the  safe  harbour 
of  a  well  guaranteed  peace,  was  his 

At  the  head  of  a  small  state,  which 
was  like  other  states  in  most  things,  and 
only  ahead  of  them  in  some  branches  of 
administration ;  he  could  not  be  an  Alex- 
ander, and,  as  Charles  XII.,  he  would  only 
like  him  have  broken  his  head.  We  find, 
therefore,  in  the  whole  of  his  conduct 
of  war,  a  controlled  power,  always  well 
balanced,  and  never  wanting  in  energy, 
which  in  the  most  critical  moments  rises 
to  astonishing  deeds,  and  the  next  mo- 
ment oscillates  quietly  on  again  in  subor- 
dination to  the  play  of  the  most  subtil 
political  influences.  Neither  vanity, 
thirst  for  gloiy,   nor  vengeance  could 

make  him  deviate  from  his  course,  and 
this  course  alone  it  is  which  brought  him 
to  a  fortunate  termination  of  the  contest. 

These  few  words  do  but  scant  justice 
to  this  phase  of  the  genius  of  the  great 
general ;  the  eyes  must  be  fixed  care- 
fully on  the  extraordinary  issue  of  the 
struggle,  and  the  causes  which  brought 
about  that  issue  must  be  traced  out,  in 
order  thoroughly  to  understand  that 
nothing  but  the  king's  penetrating 
eye  brought  him  safely  out  of  all  his 

This  is  one  feature  in  this  great  com- 
mander which  we  admire  in  the  campaign 
of  1760 — and  in  all  others,  but  in  this  es- 
pecially— because  in  none  did  he  keep  the 
balance  even  against  such  a  superior 
hostile  force,  with  such  a  small  sacrifice. 

Another  feature  relates  to  the  difficulty 
of  execution.  Marches  to  turn  a  flank, 
right  or  lefb,  are  easily  combined;  the 
idea  of  keeping  a  small  force  always  well 
concentrated  to  be  able  to  meet  the  ene- 
my on  equal  terms  at  any  point,  to  mul- 
tiply a  force  by  rapid  movement,  is  as 
easily  conceived  as  expressed ;  the  mere 
contrivance  in  these  points,  therefore, 
cannot  excite  our  admiration,  and  with 
respect  to  such  simple  things,  there  is 
nothing  further  than  to  admit  that  they 
are  simple. 

But  let  a  general  try  to  do  these  things 
like  Frederick  the  Qreat.  Long  after- 
wards authors,  who  were  eye  witnesses, 
have  spoken  of  the  danger,  indeed  of  the 
imprudence,  of  the  king's  camps,  and 
doubtless  at  the  time  he  pitched  them, 
the  danger  appeared  three  times  as  great 
as  afterwards. 

It  was  the  same  with  his  marches,  un- 
der the  eyes,  nay  often  under  the  cannon 
of  the  enemy's  army ;  these  camps  were 
taken  up,  these  marches  made  not  from 
want  of  prudence,  but  because  in  Daun's 
system,  in  his  mode  of  drawing  up  his 
army,  in  the  responsibility  which  pressed 
upon  him,  and  in  his  character,  Fre- 
derick found  that  security  which  justi- 



[book  ni. 

fied  his  camps  and  marches.  But  it 
required  the  king's  boldness,  determina^ 
tion,  and  strength  of  will  to  see  things 
in  this  light,  and  not  to  be  led  astray 
and  intimidated  by  the  danger  of  which 
thirty  years  after  people  still  wrote  and 
spoke.  Few  generals  in  this  situation 
would  have  befieved  these  simple  strate- 
gic means  to  be  practicable. 

Again,  another  difficulty  in  execution 
is  that  the  king's  army  in  this  campaign 
was  constantly  in  motion.  Twice  it 
marched  by  wretched  cross  roads,  from 
the  Elbe  into  Silesia,  in  rear  of  Daun 
and  pursued  by  Lascy  (beginning  of 
July,  beginning  of  August).  It  required 
to  be  always  ready  for  battle,  and  its 
marches  to  be  organised  with  a  degree 
of  skill  which  necessarily  called  forth  a 
proportionate  degree  of  exertion.  Al- 
though attended  and  delayed  by  thou- 
sands of  wagons,  still  its  subsistence  was 
extremely  difficult.  In  Silesia  for  eight 
days  before  the  battle  of  Leignitz  it  had 
constantly  night  marches,  defiling  alter- 
nately right  and  left  in  front  of  the  ene- 
my:— this  costs  great  fatigue,  this  re- 
quires great  privations. 

Is  it  to  be  supposed  that  all  this  could 
have  been  done  without  producing  a 
great  friction  in  the  machine  ?  Can  the 
mind  of  a  commander  elaborate  such 
movements  with  the  same  ease  as  the 
hand  of  a  land  surveyor  uses  the  astro- 
labe ?  Does  not  the  sight  of  the  suffer- 
ings of  their  hungry,  thirsty  comrades 
pierce  the  hearts  of  the  commander  and 
his  generals  a  thousand  times?  Must 
not  the  murmurs  and  doubts  which  these 
cause  reach  his  ear?  Has  an  ordinary 
man  the  courage  to  demand  such  sacri- 
fices, and  would  not  such  efforts  most 
certainly  demoralise  the  army,  break 
up  the  bands  of  discipline,  and,  in 
short,  undermine  its  military  virtue,  if 
firm  reliance  on  the  greatness  and  infal- 
libility of  the  commander  did  not  com- 
pensate for  aU?  Here,  therefore,  it  is 
that  we  should  pay  respect ;  it  is  these 

miracles  of  execution  which  we  should 
admire.  But  it  is  impossible  to  realise  all 
this  in  its  full  force  without  a  foretaste 
of  it  by  experience.  He  who  only  knows 
war  from  books  or  the  driLL  ground  can- 
not realise  the  whole  effect  of  this  coun- 
terpoise in  action ;  we  beg  him,  there- 
fore, to  accept  from  us  on  faith  and  trust 
all  that  he  is  unable  to  supply  from  any 
personal  experiences  of  his  own. 

We  wished  by  this  illustration  to  give 
more  clearness  to  the  course  of  our  ideas, 
and  in  closing  this  chapter  briefly  observe 
that  in  our  exposition  of  strategy  we  shall 
describe  after  our  fashion  those  separate 
subjects  which  appear  to  us  the  most  im- 
portant, whether  of  a  moral  or  material 
nature ;  we  shall  proceed  from  the  sim- 
ple to  the  complex,  and  shall  conclude 
with  the  inner  connection  of  the  whole 
act  of  war,  in  other  words  with  the  plan 
for  a  war  or  campaign. 


In  an  earlier  manuscript  of  the  second 
book  are  the  following  passages  en- 
dorsed by  the  author  himself  to  he  ueed 
for  the  first  Chapter  of  the  second  Book  : 
the  projected  revision  of  that  chapter 
not  naving  been  made,  the  passages 
referred  to  are  introduced  here  in  full. 

By  the  mere  assemblage  of  armed  forces 
at  a  particular  point,  a  battle  there  be- 
comes possible,  but  does  not  always  take 
place.  Is  that  possibility  now  to  be  re- 
garded as  a  reality  and  therefore  an 
effective  thing?  Certainly,  it  is  so  by 
its  results,  and  these  effects,  whatever 
they  may  be,  can  never  fail. 

1. — Possible  combats  are  on  account  of  their 
results  to  be  looked  upon  as  real  ones. 

If  a  detachment  is  sent  away  to  cut 
off  the  retreat  of  a  fljring  enemy,  and  the 
enemy  surrenders  in  consequence  without 
further  resistance,  still  it  is  through  the 

CHAP.  I.] 



combat  which  is  offered  to  him  by  this 
detachment  sent  after  him  that  he  is 
brought  to  his  decision. 

If  a  part  of  otir  army  occupies  an 
enemy's  province  which  was  undefended, 
and  thus  deprives  the  enemy  of  veiy 
considerable  means  of  keeping  up  the 
strength  of  his  army,  it  is  entirely  through 
the  battle  which  our  detached  corps  gives 
the  enemy  to  expect,  in  case  he  seeks  to 
recover  the  lost  province,  that  we  remain 
in  possession  of  the  same. 

In  both  cases  therefore,  the  mere 
possibility  of  a  battle  has  produced 
results,  and  is  therefore  to  be  classed 
amongst  actual  events.  Suppose  that  in 
these  cases  the  enemy  has  opposed  our 
corps  with  others  superior  in  force,  and 
thus  forced  ours  to  give  up  their  object 
without  a  combat,  then  certainly  our 
plan  has  failed,  but  the  battle  which  we 
offered  at  (either  of)  those  points  has 
not  on  that  account  been  without  effect, 
for  it  attracted  the  enemy's  forces  to  that 
point.  And  in  case  our  whole  under- 
taking has  done  us  harm,  it  cannot  be 
said  that  these  positions,  these  possible 
battles,  have  been  attended  with  no  re- 
sults; their  effects,  then,  are  similar  to 
those  of  a  lost  battle. 

In  this  manner  we  see  that  the  de- 
struction of  the  enemy's  military  forces, 
the  overthrow  of  the  enemy's  power,  is 
only  to  be  done  through  the  effect  of  a 
battle  whether  it  be  that  it  actually  takes 
place,  or  that  it  is  merely  offered,  and 
not  accepted. 

2. — TuoofoU  ohjeet  of  the  eomhat 

But  these  effects  are  of  two  kinds,  direct 
and  indirect ;  they  are  of  the  latter,  if  other 
things  intrude  themselves,  and  become 
the  object  of  the  combat — things  which 
cannot  be  regarded  as  the  destruction  of 
enemy's  force,  but  only  leading  up  to  it 
certainly  by  circuitous  road,  but  with 
so  much  the  greater  effect.  The  posses- 
sion of  provinces,  towns,  fortresses,  roads, 

bridges,  magazines,  &c.,  may  be  the  m- 
mediaU  object  of  a  battle,  but  never  the 
ultimate  one.  Things  of  this  description 
can  never  be  looked  upon  otherwise  than 
as  means  of  gaining  greater  superiority, 
so  as  at  last  to  offer  battle  to  the  enemy 
in  such  a  way  that  it  will  be  impossible 
for  him  to  accept  it.  Therefore  all  these 
things  must  only  be  regarded  as  inter- 
mediate links,  steps  as  it  were,  leading 
up  to  the  effectual  principle,  but  never  as 
that  principle  itself. 

8. — Example, 

In  1814  by  the  capture  of  Buonaparte's 
capital  the  object  of  the  war  was  attained. 
The  political  divisions  which  had  their 
roots  in  Paris  came  into  active  operation, 
and  an  enormous  split  left  the  power  of 
the  Emperor  to  collapse  of  itself.  Never- 
theless the  point  of  view  from  which  we 
must  look  at  all  this  is,  that  through  these 
causes  the  forces  and  defensive  means  of 
Buonaparte  were  suddenly  very  much 
diminished,  the  superiority  of  the  Allies, 
therefore,  just  in  the  same  measure  in- 
creased, and  any  further  resistance  then 
became  impomble.  It  was  this  impos- 
sibility which  produced  the  peace  with 
France.  If  we  suppose  the  forces  of  the 
Allies  at  that  moment  diminished  to  a 
like  extent  through  external  causes; — if 
the  superiority  vanishes,  then  at  the  same 
time  vanishes  also  all  the  effect  and 
importance  of  the  taking  of  Paris. 

We  have  gone  through  this  chain  of 
argument  in  order  to  show  that  this  is  the 
natural  and  only  true  view  of  the  thing 
from  which  it  derives  its  importance. 
It  leads  always  back  to  the  question, 
What  at  any  given  moment  of  the  war 
or  campaign  will  be  the  probable  result 
of  the  great  or  small  combats  which  the 
two  sides  might  offer  to  each  other  ?  In 
the  consideration  of  a  plan  for  a  campaign 
or  war,  this  question  only  ia  decisive  aa 
to  the  measures  which  are  to  be  taken 
all  through  from  the  very  commencement. 



[book  in. 

4. —  When  this  view  is  not  taken,  then  a  false 
value  is  given  to  other  things. 

If  we  do  not  accustom  ourselves  to  look 
upon  war,  and  the  single  campaigns  in  a 
war,  as  a  chain  which  is  all  composed  of 
batdes  strung  together,  one  of  which 
always  brings  on  another;  if  we  adopt 
the  idea  that  the  taking  of  a  certain 
geographical  point,  the  occupation  of  an 
undefended  province,  is  in  itself  anything; 
then  we  are  very  likely  to  regard  it  as 
an  acquisition  which  we  may  retain;  and 
if  we  look  at  it  so,  and  not  as  a  term  in 
the  whole  series  of  events,  we  do  not  ask 
ourselves  whether  this  possession  may 
not  lead  to  greater  disadvantages  here- 
after. How  often  we  find  this  mistake 
recurring  in  military  history. 

We  might  say  that,  just  as  in  commerce 

the  merchant  cannot  set  apart  and  place 
in  security  gains  from  one  single  trans- 
action by  itself,  so  in  war  a  single  ad- 
vantage cannot  be  separated  from  the 
result  of  the  whole.  Just  as  the  former 
must  always  operate  with  the  whole  bidk 
of  his  means,  just  so  in  war,  only  the 
sum  total  will  decide  on  the  advantage  or 
disadvantage  of  each  item. 

If  the  mind's  eye  is  always  directed 
upon  the  series  of  combats,  so  far  as  they 
can  be  seen  beforehand,  then  it  is  always 
looking  in  the  right  direction  to  the  aim, 
and  thereby  the  motion  of  the  force 
acquires  that  rapidity,  that  is  to  say, 
willing  and  doing  acquire  that  energy 
which  is  suitable  to  the  matter,  and  which 
is  not  to  be  thwarted  or  turned  aside  by 
extraneous  influences. 



Thb  causes  which  condition  the  use  of 
the  combat  in  strategy,  may  be  easily 
divided  into  elements  of  different  kinds, 
such  as  the  moral,  physical,  mathematical, 
geographical  and  statistical  elements. 

The  first  class  includes  all  that  can  be 
called  forth  by  moral  qualities  and  effects ; 
to  the  second  class  belong  the  whole 
mass  of  the  military  force,  its  organisa- 
tion, the  proportion  of  the  three  arms, 
etc.,  etc. ;  to  the  third  class,  the  angle  of 
the  operations'  line,  the  concentric  and 
eccentric  movements  in  as  far  as  their 
geometrical  nature  has  any  value  in  the 
calculation;  to  the  fourth  the  influences  of 
country,  as  commanding  points,  hills, 
rivers,  woods,  roads,  etc.,  etc. ;  lastly  to 
the  fifth,  all  the  means  of  supply,  etc.. 

etc.  The  separation  of  these  things  once 
for  all  in  the  mind  does  good  in  giving 
clearness  to  the  ideas  of  things,  and  help- 
ing us  to  estimate  at  once,  at  a  higher  or 
lower  value,  the  different  classes  as  we 
pass  onwards.  For,  in  considering  them 
separately,  many  lose  of  themselves  their 
borrowed  importance ;  one  feels,  for  in- 
stance, quite  plainly  that  the  value  of  a 
base  of  operations,  even  if  we  look  at 
nothing  in  it  but  the  position  of  the  line 
of  operations,  depends  much  less  in  that 
simple  form  on  the  geometrical  element 
of  the  angle  which  they  form  with  one 
another,  than  on  the  nature  of  the  roads 
and  the  country  through  which  they 
But  to  treat  upon  strategy  according 

CHAP,  in.] 



to  these  elements  would  be  the  most  un- 
fortunate idea  that  could  be  oonceivedy 
for  these  elements  are  generally  mani* 
fold,  and  intimatelj  connected  with  each 
other  in  everj  single  operation  of  war. 
We  should  lose  ourselTes  in  the  most 
soulless  analysis,  and  as  if  in  a  horrid 
dream,  we  should  be  for  ever  trying  in 
vain  to  build  up  an  axch  to  connect  this 
base  of  abstractions  with  feu^ts  belonging 

to  the  real  world.  Heaven  preserve  every 
theorist  from  such  an  undertaking !  We 
shall  keep  to  the  world  of  things  in  their 
totality,  and  not  pursue  our  analysis  fur- 
ther than  is  necessary  from  time  to  time 
to  give  distinctness  to  the  idea  which  we 
wish  to  impart,  and  which  has  come  to 
us,  not  by  a  speculative  investigation, 
but  through  the  impression  made  by  the 
realities  of  war  in  their  entirety. 



We  must  return  again  to  this  subject, 
which  is  touched  upon  in  the  third  chap- 
ter of  the  second  book  (p.  62),  because  the 
moral  forces  are  amongst  the  most  impor- 
tant subjects  in  war.  They  are  the  spirits 
which  permeate  the  whole  element  of 
war,  and  which  fasten  themselves  soonest 
and  with  the  greatest  affinity  to  the  will 
which  puts  in  motion  and  glides  the 
whole  mass  of  powers,  unite  with  it  as  it 
were  in  one  stream,  because  it  is  a  moral 
force  itself.  Unfortunately  they  seek 
to  escape  from  all  book-knowledge,  for 
they  will  neither  be  brought  into  num- 
bers nor  into  classes,  and  want  only  to 
be  seen  and  felt. 

The  spirit  and  other  moral  qualities 
which  animate  an  army,  a  general,  or 
governments,  public  opinion  in  provinces 
in  which  a  war  is  raging,  the  moral  effect 
of  a  victoiy  or  of  a  defeat,  are  things 
which  in  themselves  vary  very  much  in 
their  nature,  and  which  also,  according 
as  they  stand  with  regard  to  our  object 
and  our  relations,  may  have  an  influence 
in  different  ways. 

Although  little  or  nothing  can  be 
said   about  these  things  in  books,   still 

they  belong  to  the  theoiy  of  the  art  of 
war,  as  well  as  everything  else  which 
constitutes  war.  For  I  must  here  once 
more  repeat  that  it  is  a  miserable  philo- 
sophy if,  according  to  the  old  plan,  we 
establish  rules  and  principles  wholly  re- 
gardless of  all  moral  forces,  and  then,  as 
soon  as  these  forces  make  their  appear- 
ance, we  begin  to  coimt  exceptions  which 
we  thereby  establish  as  it  were  theoreti- 
cally, that  is,  make  into  rules ;  or  if  we 
resort  to  an  appeal  to  genius,  which  is 
above  all  rules,  thus  giving  out  by  impli- 
cation, not  only  that  rules  were  only 
made  for  fools,  but  also  that  they  them- 
selves are  no  better  than  folly. 

Even  if  the  theory  of  the  art  of  war 
does  no  more  in  reaUty  than  that  it  calls 
these  things  to  remembrance,  shows  the 
necessity  of  allowing  to  the  moral  forces 
their  fuU  value,  and  of  always  taking 
them  into  consideration,  then  it  has  in 
fact  extended  its  borders  over  the  region 
of  immaterial  forces,  and  by  establishing 
that  point  of  view,  has  condemned  before- 
hand every  one  who  would  endeavour  to 
justify  himseK  before  its  judgment  seat 
by  the  mere  physical  relations  of  forces. 



[book  m. 

But  also  out  of  regard  to  all  other  so- 
called  rules,  theory  cannot  banish  the 
moral  forces  beyond  its  frontier,  because 
the  effects  of  the  physical  forces  and  the 
moral  are  completely  fused,  and  are  not 
to  be  decomposed  like  a  metal  alloy  by  a 
chemical  process.  In  CTery  rule  relating 
to  the  physical  forces,  theoxy  must  pre- 
sent to  the  mind  at  the  same  time  the 
share  which  the  moral  powers  will  haye 
in  it,  if  it  would  not  be  led  to  categorical 
propositions,  at  one  time  too  timid  and 
contracted,  at  another  too  dogmatical  and 
wide.  Even  the  most  matter  of  fact 
theories  have,  without  knowing  it,  strayed 
oyer  into  this  moral  kingdom ;  for,  as  an 
example,  the  effects  of  a  yictory  cannot 
in  any  way  be  explained  without  taking 
into  consideration  the  moral  impressions. 
And  therefore  the  most  of  the  subjects 
which  we  shall  go  through  in  this  book 
are  composed  half  of  physical,  half  of 
moral  causes  and  effects,  and  we  might 
say  the  physical  are  almost  no  more  than 
the  wooden  handle,  whilst  the  moral  are 
the  noble  metal,  the  real  bright-polished 

The  yalue  of  the  moral  powers,  and 

their  frequently  Incredible  influence,  are 
best  exemplified  by  histoxy,  and  tlds  is 
the  most  generous  and  purest  nourish- 
ment which  the  mind  of  the  general  can 
extract  from  it.— At  the  same  time  it  is 
to  be  obseryed,  that  it  is  less  demonstra- 
tions, critical  examinations,  and  learned 
treatises,  than  sentiments,  general  im- 
pressions, and  single  flashing  sparks  of 
truth,  which  yield  the  seeds  of  know- 
ledge that  are  to  fertilise  the  mind. 

We  might  go  through  the  most  im- 
portant moral  phenomena  in  war,  and 
with  all  the  care  of  a  diligent  professor 
try  what  we  could  impart  about  each, 
either  g^od  or  bad.  But  as  in  such  a 
method  one  slides  too  much  into  the 
common  place  and  trite,  whilst  real 
mind  quickly  makes  its  escape  in  anidy- 
sis,  the  end  is  that  one  gets  imperceptibly 
to  the  relation  of  things  which  eyerybody 
knows.  We  prefer,  therefor^,  to  remain 
here  more  than  usually  incomplete  and 
rhapsodical,  content  to  haye  drawn  at- 
tention to  the  importance  of  the  subject 
in  a  general  way,  and  to  haye  pointed 
out  the  spirit  in  which  the  yiews  giyen 
in  this  book  haye  been  conceiyed. 



They  are  The  Talents  of  the  Commander; 
The  Military  Virtue  of  the  Army  ;  Its  iVV- 
tional  feeliny.  Which  of  these  is  the  most 
important  no  one  can  tell  in  a  general 
way,  for  it  is  yery  diflicult  to  say  any- 
thing in  general  of  their  strength,  and 
still  more  difficult  to  compare  the  strength 
of  one  with  that  of  another.  The  best 
plan  is  not  to  undervalue  any  of  them,  a 
fault  which  human  judgment  is  prone  to 

sometimes  on  one  side,  sometimes  on 
another,  in  its  whimsical  osciUations.  It 
is  better  to  satisfy  ourselyes  of  the  un- 
deniable efficacy  of  these  three  things 
by  sufficient  eyidence  from  history. 

It  is  true,  however,  that  in  modem 
times  the  armies  of  European  states  have 
got  very  much  to  a  par  as  regards  disci- 
pline and  fitness  for  service,  and  that 
the  conduct   of   war  has-^as    philoso- 

CHAP.  IV.] 



pliers  would  say — so  naturally  deve- 
loped itself,  thereby  become  a  method, 
common  as  it  were  to  all  armies,  that 
even  from  commanders  there  is  nothing 
further  to  be  expected  in  the  way  of  ap- 
plication of  special  means  of  art,  in  the 
limited  sense  (such  as  Frederidk  the 
Second's  oblique  order).  Consequently 
it  cannot  be  denied  that,  as  matters  now 
stand,  there  is  so  much  the  greater  scope 
afforded  for  the  influence  of  National 
spirit  and  habituation  of  an  aiiny  to  war. 
A  long  peace  may  alter  again  all  this. 

The  national  spirit  of  an  army  (enthu- 
siasm, fanatical  zeal,  faith,  opinion,)  dis- 
plays itself  most  in  mountain  warfare, 
where  eveiy  one  down  to  the  common 

soldier  is  left  to  himself.  On  this  account, 
a  mountainous  country  is  the  best  cam- 
paigning ground  for  a  people  in  arms. 

Expertness  of  an  army  through  train- 
ing, and  that  well  tempered  courage 
wiuich  holds  the  ranks  together  as  if  they 
had  been  cast  in  a  mould,  show  their  su- 
periority in  an  open  country. 

The  talent  of  a  general  has  most  room 
to  display  itself  in  a  closely  intersected, 
undulating  country.  In  mountains  he 
has  too  little  command  over  the  separate 
parts,  aud  the  direction  of  all  is  beyond 
his  powers ;  in  open  plains  it  is  simple 
and  does  not  exceed  those  powers. 

According  to  these  imdeniable  elective 
affinities,  plans  should  be  regulated. 



This  is  distinguished  from  mere  bravery, 
and  still  more  from  enthusiasm  for  the 
business  of  war.  The  flrst  is  certainly  a 
necessary  constituent  part  of  it,  but  in  the 
same  way  as  bravery,  which  is  a  natural 
gift  in  some  men,  may  arise  in  a  soldier 
as  a  part  of  an  army  from  habit  and  cus- 
tom, so  with  him  it  must  also  have  a 
different  direction  from  that  which  it  has 
with  others.  It  must  lose  that  impulse  to 
unbridled  activity  and  exercise  of  force 
which  is  its  characteristic  in  the  indi- 
vidual, and  submit  itseK  to  demands  of 
a  higher  kind,  to  obedience,  order,  rule, 
and  method.  Enthusiasm  for  the  pro- 
fession gives  life  and  greater  Are  to  the 
military  virtue  of  an  army,  but  does  not 
necessarily  constitute  a  part  of  it. 

War  is  a  special  business  (and  however 
general  its  relations  may  be,  and  even 
if  all  the  male  population  of  a  country, 

capable  of  bearing  arms,  exercise  this 
calling,  still  it  always  continues  to 
be),  different  and  separate  from  the 
other  pursuits  which  occupy  the  life  of 
man. — To  be  imbued  with  a  sense  of  the 
spirit  and  nature  of  this  business,  to 
make  use  of,  to  rouse,  to  assimilate  into 
the  system  the  powers  which  should  be 
active  in  it,  to  penetrate  completely 
into  the  nature  of  the  business  with  the 
understanding,  through  exercise  to  gain 
confidence  and  expertness  in  it,  to  be 
completely  given  up  to  it,  to  pass  out  of 
the  man  into  the  part  which  it  is  assigned 
to  us  to  play  in  war,  that  is  the  military 
virtue  of  an  army  in  the  individual. 

However  much  pains  may  be  taken  to 
combine  the  soldier  and  the  citizen  in 
one  and  the  same  individual,  whatever 
may  be  done  to  nationalise  wars,  and 
however  much  we  may  imagine  times 



[book  in. 

haye  clianged  since  the  days  of  the  old 
Condottieri,  never  will  it  be  possible  to 
do  away  with  the  individuality  of  the 
business ;  and  if  that  cannot  be  done,  then 
those  who  belong  to  it,  as  long  as  they 
belong  to  it,  will  always  look  upon  them- 
selves as  a  kind  of  guild,  in  the  regula- 
tions, laws  and  customs  of  which  the 
spirits  of  war  fix  themselves  by  prefer- 
ence. And  so  it  is  in  fact.  Even  with  the 
most  decided  inclination  to  look  at  war 
from  the  highest  point  of  view,,  it  would 
be  very  wrong  to  look  down  upon  this  cor- 
porate spirit  {esprit  de  corps)  which  may 
and  should  exist  more  or  less  in  every 
army.  This  corporate  spirit  forms  the 
bond  of  union  between  the  natural  forces 
which  are  active  in  that  which  we  have 
called  military  virtue.  The  crystals  of 
military  virtue  have  a  greater  affinity  for 
the  spirit  of  a  corporate  body  than  for 
anytlung  else. 

An  army  which  preserves  its  usual 
formations  under  the  heaviest  fire, 
which  is  never  shaken  by  imaginary 
fears,  and  in  the  face  of  real  danger  dis- 
putes the  ground  inch  by  inch,  which, 
proud  in  the  feeling  of  its  victories,  never 
loses  its  sense  of  obedience,  its  respect 
for  and  confidence  in  its  leaders,  even 
under  the  depressing  effects  of  defeat; 
an  army  with  all  its  physical  powers,  in- 
ured to  privations  and  fatigue  by  exercise, 
like  the  muscles  of  an  athlete ;  an  army 
which  looks  upon  all  its  toils  as  the 
means  to  victory,  not  as  a  curse  which 
hovers  over  its  standards,  and  which  is 
always  reminded  of  its  duties  and  virtues 
by  the  short  catechism  of  one  idea,  namely 
the  honow  of  its  arms ; — Such  an  army  is 
imbued  with  the  true  military  spirit. 

Soldiers  may  fight  bravely  like  the 
Yend^ans,  and  do  great  things  like  the 
Swiss,  the  Americans,  or  Spaniards, 
without  displaying  this  military  virtue. 
A  commander  may  also  be  successful  at 
the  head  of  standing  armies,  like  Eugene 
and  Marlborough,  without  enjoying  the 
benefit  of  its  assistance;   we  must  not, 

therefore,  say  that  a  successful  war  with- 
out it  cannot  be  imagined ;  and  we  draw 
especial  attention  to  that  point,  in  order 
the  more  to  individualise  the  conception 
which  is  here  brought  forward,  that  the 
idea  may  not  dissolve  into  a  generalisa- 
tion, and  that  it  may  not  be  thought 
that  military  virtue  is  in  the  end  every 
thing.  It  is  not  so.  Military  virtue  in 
an  army  is  a  definite  moral  power  which 
may  be  supposed  wanting,  and  the  in- 
fluence of  which  may  therefore  be  esti- 
mated— like  any  instrument  the  power  of 
which  may  be  calculated. 

Having  thus  characterised  it,  we  pro- 
ceed to  consider  what  can  be  predicated 
of  its  influence,  and  what  are  the  means 
of  gaining  its  assistance. 

Military  virtue  is  for  the  parts,  what 
the  genius  of  the  commander  is  for  the 
whole.  The  general  can  only  guide  the 
whole,  not  each  separate  part,  and  where 
he  cannot  guide  the  part,  there  military 
virtue  must  be  its  leader.  A  general  is 
chosen  by  the  reputation  of  his  superior 
tcdents,  the  chief  leaders  of  large  masses 
after  careful  probation ;  but  this  proba- 
tion diminishes  as  we  descend  the  scale 
of  rank,  and  in  just  the  same  measure 
we  may  reckon  less  and  less  upon  indi- 
vidual talents ;  but  what  is  wanting  iu 
this  respect  military  virtue  should  supply. 
The  natural  qualities  of  a  warlike  people 
play  jiist  this  part:  bravery^  aptitude, 
powers  of  endurance  and  enthusiasm. 

These  properties  may  therefore  supply 
the  place  of  military  virtue,  and  vice  versa, 
from  which  the  following  may  be  de- 
duced : 

1.  Military  virtue  is  a  quality  of  stand- 
ing armies  only,  but  they  require  it  the 
most.  In  national  risings  and  wars,  its 
place  is  supplied  by  natural  qualities, 
which  develop  themselves  there  more 

2.  Standing  armies  opposed  to  stand- 
ing armies,  can  more  easily  dispense  with 
it,  than  a  standing  army  opposed  to  a 
national  insurrection,  for  in  that  case,  the 

OHAP.  v.] 



troops  are  more  scattered,  and  the  di- 
visions left  more  to  themselves.  But  where 
an  army  can  be  kept  concentrated,  the 
genius  of  the  general  takes  a  greater 
place,  and  supplies  what  is  wanting  in 
the  spirit  of  the  army.  Therefore  gene- 
rally military  virtue  becomes  more  neces- 
sary the  more  the  theatre  of  operations 
and  other  circumstances  make  the  war 
complicated,  and  cause  the  forces  to  be 

From  these  truths  the  only  lesson  to 
be  derived  is  this,  that  if  an  army  is 
deficient  in  this  quality,  eveiy  endeavour 
should  be  made  to  simplify  the  opera- 
tions of  the  war  as  much  as  possible,  or 
to  introduce  double  efficiency  in  the  orga- 
nisation of  the  army  in  some  other  re- 
spect, and  not  to  expect  from  the  mere 
name  of  a  standing  army,  what  only  the 
veritable  thing  can  give. 

The  military  virtue  of  an  army  is  there- 
fore, one  of  tiie  most  important  moral 
powers  in  war,  and  where  it  is  wanting, 
we  either  see  its  place  supplied  by  one 
of  the  others,  such  as  the  great  supe- 
riority of  generalship,  or  popular  en- 
thusiasm, or  we  find  the  results  not  com- 
mensurate with  the  exertions  made. — How 
much  that  is  great,  this  spirit,  this  sterling 
worth  of  an  army,  this  refining  of  ore 
into  the  polished  metal,  has  abeady  done, 
we  see  in  the  history  of  the  Macedonians 
under  Alexander,  the  Boman  legions 
under  Cesar,  the  Spanish  infantry  under 
Alexander  Famese,  the  Swedes  under 
Gustavus  Adolphus  and  Charles  XII., 
the  Prussians  under  Frederick  the  Great, 
and  the  French  under  Buonaparte.  We 
must  purposely  shut  our  eyes  against 
all  historical  proof,  if  we  do  not  admit, 
that  the  astonishing  successes  of  these 
generals*  and  their  greatness  in  situations 
of  extreme  difficidty,  were  only  possible 
with  armies  possessing  this  virtue. 

This  spirit  can  only  be  generated  from 
two  sources,  and  only  by  these  two  con- 
jointly :  the  first  is  a  succession  of  wars 
and  great  victories;  the  other  is,  an 
activity  of  the  army  carried  sometimes  to 

the  highest  pitch.  Only  by  these,  does 
the  soldier  leam  to  know  his  powers. 
The  more  a  general  is  in  the  habit  of 
demanding  from  his  troops,  the  surer 
he  is,  that  his  demands  will  be  answered. 
The  soldier  is  as  proud  of  overcoming 
toil,  as  he  is  of  surmoimting  danger. 
Therefore  it  is  only  in  the  soil  of  incessant 
activity  and  exertion  that  the  germ  wiU 
thrive,  but  also  only  in  the  sunshine 
of  victory.  Once  it  becomes  a  strong  tree, 
it  will  stand  against  the  fiercest  storms 
of  misfortime  and  defeat,  and  even 
against  the  indolent  inactivity  of  peace, 
at  least  for  a  time.  It  can  therefore  only 
be  created  in  war,  and  imder  great 
generals,  but  no  doubt  it  may  last  at 
least  for  several  generations,  even  under 
generals  of  moderate  capacity,  and 
through  considerable  periods  of  peace. 

With  this  generous   and  noble  spirit 
of  tmion  in   a  line   of  veteran  troops, 
covered  with  scars  and  thoroughly  inured 
to  war,  we  must  not  compare  the   self 
esteem  and  vanity  of  a  standing  army, 
held  together  merely  by  the  glue  of  ser- 
vice-regulations   and  a  drill    book;    a 
certain  plodding  earnestness  and  slrict 
discipline  may  keep  up  military  virtue 
for  a  long  time,  but  can  never  create 
it;    these  things  therefore  have  a  cer- 
tain value,  but  must  not  be  over-rated. 
Order,  smartness,  good  will,  also  a  certain 
degree  of  pride  and  high  feeling,  are  qua- 
lities of  an  army  formed  in  time  of  peace 
which  are  to  be  prized,  but  cannot  stand 
alone.   The  whole  retains  the  whole,  and 
as  with  glass  too  quickly  cooled,  a  single 
crack  breaks  the  wholomass.    Above  all, 
the  highest  spirit  in  the  world  changes 
only  too  easily  at  the  first  check  into  de- 
pression, and  one  might  say  into  a  kind  of 
rhodomontade  of  alarm,  the  French  sauve 
que  peut, — Such  an  army  can  only  achieve 
something  through  its  leader,  never  by 
itself.  It  must  be  led  with  double  caution, 
until  by  degrees,  in  victory  and  hardships, 
the  strength  grows  into  the  full  armour. 
Beware  then  of  confusing  the  spirit  of  an 
army  with  its  temper. 



[book  ni. 



The  place  and  part  wluch  boldness  takes 
in  the  dynamic  system  of  powers,  where 
it  stands  opposite  to  Foresight  and  pru- 
dence, has  been  stated  in  the  chapter  on 
the  certainty  of  the  result,  in  order  thereby 
to  show,  that  theory  has  no  right  to 
restrict  it  by  virtue  of  its  legislative 

But  this  noble  impulse,  with  which  the 
human  soul  raises  itself  above  the  most 
formidable  dangers,  is  to  be  regarded  as 
an  active  principle  peculiarly  belonging  to 
war.  In  fact,  in  what  branch  of  human 
activity  should  boldness  have  a  right  of 
citizenship  if  not  in  war  ? 

From  the  train-driver  and  the  drum- 
mer up  to  the  general,  it  is  the  noblest 
of  virtues,  the  true  steel  which  gives  the 
weapon  its  edge  and  briUiancy. 

Let  us  admit  in  fact  it  has  in  war  even 
its  own  prerogatives.  Over  and  above 
the  result  of  the  calculation  of  space, 
time,  and  quantity,  we  must  allow  a  cer- 
tain per-centage  which  boldness  derives 
iioni  the  weakness  of  others,  whenever  it 
gains  the  mastery.  It  is  therefore,  vir- 
tually, a  creative  power.  This  is  not 
difficult  to  demonstrate  philosophically. 
As  often  as  boldness  encounters  hesita- 
tion, the  probability  of  the  result  is  of 
necessity  in  its  favour,  because  the  very 
state  of  hesitation  implies  a  loss  of  equi- 
librium already.  It  is  only  when  it 
encounters  cautious  foresight — which  we 
may  say  is  just  as  bold,  at  all  events  just 
as  strong  and  powerful  as  itseK — that 
it  is  at  a  disadvantage ;  such  cases,  how- 
ever, rarely  occur.  Out  of  the  whole 
multitude  of  prudent  men  in  the  world, 
the  great  majority  are  so  from  timidity. 

Amongst  large  masses,  boldness  is  a 
force,  the  special  cultivation  o£.  which  can 
never  be  to  the  detriment  of  other  forces, 
because  the  great  mass  is  bound  to  a 
higher  will  by  the  frame- work  and  joints 
of  the  order  of  battle  and  of  the  service, 
and  therefore  is  guided  by  an  intelligent 
power  which  is  extraneous.  Boldness  is 
therefore  here  only  like  a  spring  held 
down  until  its  action  is  required. 

The  higher  the  rank  the  more  neces- 
sary it  is  that  boldness  should  be  accom- 
panied by  a  reflective  mind,  that  it  may 
not  be  a  mere  blind  outburst  of  passion 
to  no  purpose  ;  for  with  increase  of  rank 
it  becomes  always  less  a  matter  of  self- 
sacriflce  and  more  a  matter  of  the  preser- 
vation of  others,  and  the  good  of  the 
whole.  Where  regulations  of  the  service 
as  a  kind  of  second  nature  prescidbe  for 
the  masses,  reflection  mu^t  be  the  guide 
of  the  general,  and  in  his  case  individual 
boldness  in  action  may  easily  become  a 
fault.  Still,  at  the  same  time,  it  is  a 
flne  failing,  and  must  not  be  looked  at 
in  the  same  light  as  any  other.  Happy 
the  army  in  which  an  untimely  boldness 
frequently  manifests  itself ;  it  is  an  exu- 
berant growth  which  shows  a  rich  soil. 
Even  foolhardiness,  that  is  boldness  with- 
out an  object,  is  not  to  be  despised ;  in 
point  of  fact  it  is  the  same  energy  of 
feeling,  only  exercised  as  a  kind  of  pas- 
sion without  any  co-operation  of  the  in- 
telligent faculties.  It  is  only  when  it 
strikes  at  the  root  of  obedience,  when  it 
treats  with  contempt  the  orders  of  supe- 
rior authority,  that  it  must  be  repressed 
as  a  dangerous  evil,  not  on  its  own  ac- 
count but  on  account  of  the  act  of  disobe- 

CHAP.  VI.] 



dienoe,  for  there  is  nothing  in  war  which 
is  of  greater  imporianee  than  obedience. 

The  reader  will  readily  agree  with  us 
that,  supposing  an  equal  degree  of  dis- 
cernment to  be  forthcoming  in  a  certain 
number  of  cases,  a  thousand  times  as 
many  of  them  will  end  in  disaster  through 
over-anxiety  as  through  boldness. 

One  would  suppose  it  natural  that  the 
interposition  of  a  reasonable  object 
should  stimidate  boldness,  and  therefore 
lessen  its  intrinsic  merit,  and  yet  the 
reverse  is  the  case  in  reality. 

The  intervention  of  lucid  thought  or 
the  general  supremacy  of  mind  deprives 
the  emotional  forces  of  a  great  part  of 
their  power.  On  that  account  boldness 
becomes  of  rarer  occurrence  the  higher  we 
ascend  the  scale  ofranky  for  whether  the  dis- 
cernment and  the  understanding  do  or 
do  not  increase  with  these  ranks  still  the 
conmianders,  in  their  several  stations  as 
they  rise,  become  pressed  more  and  more 
severely  by  objective  things,  by  relations 
and  claims  from  without,  so  that  they 
become  the  more  perplexed  the  lower 
the  degree  of  their  individual  intelli- 
gence. This  so  far  as  regards  war  is 
the  chief  foimdation  of  the  truth  of  the 
French  proverb : — 

"  Tel  brille  an  aeoond  qui  s' Eclipse  au  premier." 

Almost  all  the  generals  who  are  repre- 
sented in  history  as  merely  having  at- 
tained to  mediocrity,  and  as  wanting  in 
decision  when  in  supreme  command,  are 
men  celebrated  in  their  antecedent  career 
for  their  boldness  and  decision. 

In  those  motives  to  bold  action  which 
arise  from  the  pressure  of  necessity  we 
must  make  a  distinction.  Necessity  has 
its  degrees  of  intensity.  If  it  lies  near  at 
hand,  if  the  person  acting  is  in  the  pur- 
suit of  his  object  driven  into  great  dan- 
gers in  order  to  escape  others  equally 
great,  then  we  can  only  admire  his  reso- 
lution, which  still  has  also  its  value.  If 
a  young  man  to  show  his  skill  in  horse- 
manship leaps  across  a  deep  clift,  then 

he  is  bold  ;  if  he  makes  the  same  leap 
pursued  by  a  troop  of  head-chopping 
Janissaries  he  is  only  resolute.  But  the 
farther  off  the  necessity  from  the  point 
of  action,  the  greater  the  number  of  rela- 
tions intervening  which  the  mind  has  to 
traverse  in  order  to  realise  them,  by  so 
much  the  lees  does  necessity  take  from 
boldness  in  action*  If  Frederick  the 
Great,  in  the  year  1756,  saw  that  war 
was  inevitable,  and  that  he  could  only 
escape  destruction  by  being  beforehand 
with  his  enemies,  it  became  necessary  for 
him  to  commence  the  war  himself,  but  at 
the  same  time  it  was  certainly  very  bold : 
for  few  men  in  his  position  would  have 
made  up  their  minds  to  do  so. 

Although  strategy  is  only  the  province 
of  generals  in  chief  or  commanders  in 
the  higher  positions,  still  boldness  in 
all  the  other  branches  of  an  army  is 
as  little  a  matter  of  indifference  to  it  as 
their  other  military  virtues.  With  an 
army  belonging  to  a  bold  race,  and  in 
which  the  spirit  of  boldness  has  been 
always  nourished,  very  different  things 
may  be  undertaken  than  with  one  in 
which  this  virtue  is  unknown ;  for  that 
reason  we  have  considered  it  in  connec- 
tion with  an  army.  But  our  subject  is 
specially  the  boldness  of  the  general, 
and  yet  we  have  not  much  to  say  about 
it  after  having  described  this  military 
virtue  in  a  general  way  to  the  best  of 
our  ability. 

The  higher  we  rise  in  a  position  of 
command,  the  more  do  the  mind,  under- 
standing, and  penetration  predominate 
in  activity,  the  more  therefore  is  boldness, 
which  is  a  property  of  the  feelings,  kept 
in  subjection,  and  for  that  reason  we  find 
it  so  rarely  in  the  highest  positions,  but 
also  then  so  much  the  more  to  be  admired. 
Boldness,  directed  by  an  overruling  in- 
telligence, is  the  stamp  of  the  hero :  this 
boldness  does  not  consist  in  venturing 
directly  against  the  nature  of  things,  in  a 
downright  contempt  of  the  laws  of  pro- 
bability, but,  if  a  choice  is  once  made,  in 




[book  in. 

tlie  rigorous  adherence  to  that  higher 
calculation  which  genius,  the  tact  of 
judgment,  has  gone  over  in  the  speed 
of  lightning,  and  only  half  consciously. 
The  more  boldness  lends  wings  to  the 
mind  and  the  discernment,  so  much  the 
farther  they  will  reach  in  their  flight,  so 
much  the  more  comprehensive  will  be  the 
Tiew,  the  more  exact  the  result,  but  cer- 
tainly always  only  in  the  sense  that  with 
gpreater  objects  greater  dangers  are  con- 
nected. The  ordinary  man,  not  to  speak 
of  the  weak  and  irresolute,  arrives  at  an 
exact  residt  so  far  as  such  is  possible 
without  ocular  demonstration,  at  most 
after  diligent  reflection  in  his  chamber, 
at  a  distance  from  danger  and  responsi- 
bility. Let  danger  and  responsibility  draw 
close  round  him  in  every  direction,  then 
he  loses  the  power  of  comprehensive 
vision,  and  if  he  retains  this  in  any  mea- 
sure by  the  influence  of  others,  still  he 
will  lose  his  power  of  decision,  because 
there  no  one  can  help  him. 

We  think  then  that  it  is  impossible  to 
imagine  a  distinguished  general  without 
boldness,  that  is  to  say,  that  no  man  can 
become  such  who  is  not  bom  with  this 
power  of  the  soul,  and  we  therefore  look 
upon  it  as  the  flrst  requisite  for  such  a  ca- 
reer. How  much  of  this  inborn  power, 
developed  and  moderated  through  educa- 
tion and  the  circumstances  of  life,  is  left 
when  the  man  has  attained  a  high  posi- 
tion, is  the  second  question.  The  greater 
this    power  still  is,    the    stronger  will 

genius  be  on  the  wing,  the  higher  will 
be  its  flight.  The  risks  become  always 
greater,  but  the  aim  grows  with  them. 
Whether  its  lines  proceed  out  of  and  get 
their  direction  from  a  distant  necessity, 
or  whether  they  converge  to  the  keystone 
of  a  building  which  ambition  has  planned, 
whether  Frederick  or  Alexander  acts,  is 
much  the  same  as  regards  the  critical 
view.  If  the  one  excites  the  imagina- 
tion more  because  it  is  bolder,  the  other 
pleases  the  understanding  most,  because 
it  has  in  it  more  absolute  necessity. 

We  have  still  to  advert  to  one  very 
important  circumstance. 

The  spirit  of  boldness  can  exist  in  aa 
army,  either  because  it  is  in  the  people, 
or  because  it  has  been  generated  in  a 
successful  war  conducted  by  able  gene- 
rals. In  such  case  it  must  of  course  be 
dispensed  with  at  the  commencement. 

Now  in  our  days  there  is  hardly  any 
other  means  of  educating  the  spirit  of  a 
people  in  this  respect,  except  by  war,  and 
that  too  under  bold  generals.  By  it  alone 
can  that  efleminacy  of  feeling  be  coun- 
teracted, that  propensity  to  seek  for  the 
enjoyment  of  comfort,  which  cause  de- 
generacy in  a  people  rising  in  prosperity 
and  immersed  in  an  extremely  busy  com- 

A  nation  can  hope  to  have  a  strong^ 
position  in  the  political  world  only  if  its 
character  and  practice  in  actual  war  mu- 
tually support  each  other  in  constant 
reciprocal  action. 

CHAP,  vn.] 





The  reader  expects  to  hear  of  angles  and 
lines,  and  finds,  instead  of  these  citizens 
of  the  scientific  world,  only  people  out  of 
common  life,  such  as  he  meets  with  every 
day  in  the  street.  And  yet  the  author 
cannot  make  up  his  mind  to  become  a 
hair's  breadth  more  mathematical  than 
the  subject  seems  to  him  to  require,  and 
he  is  not  alarmed  at  the  surprise  which 
the  reader  may  show. 

In  war  more  than  anywhere  else  in 
the  world  things  happen  differently  to 
what  we  had  expected,  and  look  diffe- 
rently when  near,  to  what  they  did  at  a 
distance.  "With  what  serenity  the  archi- 
tect can  watch  his  work  gradually  rising 
and  growing  into  his  plan.  The  doctor, 
although  much  more  at  the  mercy  of 
mysterious  agencies  and  chances  than 
the  architect,  still  knows  enough  of  the 
forms  and  effects  of  his  means.  In  war, 
on  the  other  hand,  the  commander  of  an 
immense  whole  finds  himself  in  a  con- 
stant whirlpool  of  false  and  true  informa- 
tion, of  mistakes  committed  through  fear, 
through  negligence,  through  precipita- 
tion, of  contraventions  of  his  authority, 
either  from  mistaken  or  correct  motives, 

from  HI  will,  true  or  false  sense  of 
duty,  indolence  or  exhaustion,  of  acci- 
dents which  no  mortal  could  have  for- 
seen.  In  short,  he  is  the  victim  of  a 
hundred  thousand  impressions,  of  which 
the  most  have  an  intimidating,  the  fewest 
an  encouraging  tendency.  By  long  ex- 
perience in  war,  the  tact  is  acquired  of 
readily  appreciating  the  value  of  these 
incidents;  high  courage  and  stability 
of  character  stand  proof  against  them, 
as  the  rock  resists  the  beating  of  the 
waves.  He  who  would  yield  to  these 
impressions  would  never  carry  out  an 
undertaking,  and  on  that  account  per- 
severance  in  the  proposed  object,  as  long 
as  there  is  no  decided  reason  against 
it,  is  a  most  necessary  counterpoise. 
Further,  there  is  hardly  any  celebrated 
enterprise  in  war  which  was  not  achieved 
by  endless  exertion,  pains,  and  priva- 
tions ;  and  as  here  the  weakness  of  the 
physical  and  moral  man  is  ever  dis- 
posed to  yield,  therefore  only  an  immense 
force  of  will  which  manifests  itself  in 
perseverance,  admired  by  present  and 
future  generations,  can  conduct  us  to  the 



[book  III. 



This  is  in  tactics,  as  weU  as  in  strategy, 
the  most  general  principle  of  victory,  and 
shall  be  examined  by  us  first  in  its  gene- 
rality, for  which  we  may  be  permitted 
the  following  exposition : 

Strategy  fixes  the  point  where,  the 
time  when,  and  the  numerical  force  with 
which  the  battle  is  to  be  fought.  By  this 
triple  determination  it  has  therefore  a 
very  essential  influence  on  the  issue  of  the 
combat.  If  tactics  has  fought  the  battle, 
if  the  result  is  over,  let  it  be  victory  or 
defeat,  strategy  makes  such  use  of  it  as 
can  be  made  in  accordance  with  the  great 
object  of  the  war.  This  object  of  the 
war  is  naturally  often  a  very  distant  one, 
seldom  does  it  lie  quite  close  at  hand.  A. 
series  of  other  objects  subordinate  them- 
selves to  it  as  means.  These  objects, 
which  are  at  the  same  time  means  to  a 
higher  object,  may  be  practically  of  vari- 
ous kinds ;  even  the  ultimate  aim  of  the 
whole  war  is  a  different  one  in  every  war. 
We  shall  make  ourselves  acquainted  with 
these  things  according  as  we  become 
acquainted  with  the  separate  objects 
which  they  come  in  contact  with ;  and  it 
is  not  our  intention  here  to  embrace  the 
whole  subject  by  a  complete  enumeration 
of  them,  even  if  that  were  possible.  We 
therefore  let  the  employment  of  the 
battle  stand  over  for  the  present. 

Even  those  things  through  which  stra- 
tegy has  an  influence  on  the  issue  of  the 
combat,  inasmuch  as  it  establishes  the 
same,  to  a  certain  extent  decrees  them, 
ai*e  not  so  simple  that  they  can  be  em- 
braced in  one  single  view  For  as  strategy 
appoints  time,  place  and  force,  it  can  do 
so   in  practice   in  many  ways,   each  of 

which  influences  in  a  different  manner 
the  result  of  the  combat  as  well  as  its 
consequences.  Therefore  we  shaU  only 
get  acquainted  with  this  also  by  degrees, 
that  is,  through  the  subjects  which  de- 
termine more  closely  the  application. 

If  we  strip  the  combat  of  all  modifica- 
tions which  it  may  undergo  according  to 
its  immediate  purpose  and  the  circum- 
stances from  which  it  proceeds,  lastly  if 
we  set  aside  the  valour  of  the  troops, 
because  that  is  a  given  quantity,  then 
there  remains  only  the  bare  conception 
of  the  combat,  that  is  a  combat  without 
form,  in  which  we  distinguish  nothing 
but  the  number  of  the  combatants. 

This  number  will  therefore  determine 
victory.  Now  from  the  number  of  things 
above  deducted  to  get  to  this  point,  it  ia 
shown  that  the  superiority  in  numbers 
in  a  battle  is  only  one  of  the  factors 
employed  to  produce  victory ;  that  there- 
fore so  far  from  having  with  the  supe- 
riority in  number  obtained  all,  or  even 
only  the  principal  thing,  we  have  perhaps 
got  very  little  by  it,  according  as  the  other 
circumstances  which  co-operate  happen 
to  be  so,  or  so. 

But  this  superiority  has  degrees,  it 
it  may  be  imagined,  twofold,  threefold 
or  four  times  as  many,  etc.,  etc.,  and  every 
one  sees,  that  by  increasing  in  this  way, 
it  must  (at  last)  overpower  everything 

In  such  an  aspect  we  grant,  that  the 
superiority  in  numbers  is  the  most  im- 
portant factor  in  the  result  of  a  combat, 
only  it  must  be  sufficiently  great  to  be  a 
counterpoise  to  all  the  other  co-operating 
circumstances.     The  direct  result  of  this 

CHAP,  vin*.] 



ifl,  that  the  greatest  possible  number  of 
troops  should  be  brought  into  action  at 
the  decisive  point. 

Whether  the  troops  thus  brought  are 
sufficient  or  not,  we  have  then  done  in 
this  respect  all  that  our  means  allowed. 
This  is  the  first  principle  in  strategy, 
therefore  in  general  as  now  stated,  it  is 
just  as  well  suited  for  Greeks  and  Persians, 
or  for  Englishmen  and  Mahrattas,  as  for 
French  and  Germans.  But  we  shall  take 
a  glance  at  our  relations  in  Europe,  as 
respects  war,  in  order  to  arrive  at  some 
more  definite  idea  on  this  subject. 

Here  we  find  armies  much  more  like  one 
another  in  equipment,  organisation,  and 
practical  skill  of  every  kind.  There  only 
remains  still  alternately  a  difference  in 
the  military  virtue  of  armies,  and  in  the 
talent  of  generals.  If  we  go  through  the 
military  history  of  modem  Europe,  we 
find  no  example  of  a  Marathon. 

Frederick  the  Great  beat  80,000 
Austrians  at  Leuthen  with  about  30,000 
men,  and  at  Bosbach  with  25,000  some 
60,000  allies;  these  are  however  the 
only  instances  of  victories  gained  against 
an  enemy  double,  or  more  than  double 
in  numbers.  Charles  XII.,  in  the  battle 
of  Narva,  we  cannot  weU  quote,  the 
Bussians  were  at  that  time  hardly  to  be 
regarded  as  Europeans,  also  the  prin- 
cipal circumstances  even  of  the  battle, 
are  but  too  little  known.  Buonaparte 
had  at  Dresden  120,000  against  220,000, 
therefore  not  the  double.  At  CoUin, 
Frederick  the  Great  did  not  succeed,  with 
30,000  against  50,000  Austrians,  neither 
Buonaparte  in  the  desperate  battle  of 
Leipsic,  where  he  was  160,000  strong, 
against  280,000,  the  superiority  therefore 
considerably  less  than  double. 

From  this  we  may  infer,  that  it  is  very 
difficult  in  the  present  state  of  Europe, 
for  the  most  talented  general  to  gain  a 
victory  over  an  enemy  double  his  strength. 
Now  if  we  see  double  numbers,  such  a 
weight  in  the  scale  against  the  greatest 
generals,  we  may  be  sure,  that  in  ordinary 

cases,  in  small  as  well  as  great  combats, 
an  important  superiority  of  numbers,  but 
which  need  not  be  over  two  to  one,  will 
be  sufficient  to  ensure  the  victory,  how- 
ever disadvantageous  other  circumstances 
may  be.  Certainly,  we  may  imagine  a 
defile  which  even  tenfold  would  not  suf- 
fice to  force,  but  in  such  a  case  it  can  be 
no  question  of  a  battle  at  all. 

We  think  therefore,  that  exactly  in 
our  relations,  as  well  as  in  all  similar 
ones,  the  superiority  at  the  decisive  point 
is  a  matter  of  capital  importance,  and 
that  this  subject,  in  the  generality  of 
cases,  is  decidedly  the  most  important  of 
all.  The  strength  at  the  decisive  point 
depends  on  the  absolute  strength  of  the 
army,  and  on  skill  in  making  use  of  it. 

The  first  rule  is  therefore  to  enter  the 
field  with  an  army  as  strong  as  possible. 
This  sounds  very  like  a  common  place, 
but  still  is  really  not  so. 

In  order  to  show  that  for  a  long  time 
the  strength  of  forces  was  by  no  means 
regarded  as  a  chief  point,  we  need  only 
observe,  that  in  most,  and  even  in  the 
most  detailed  histories  of  the  wars,  in 
the  eighteenth  century,  the  strength  of 
the  armies  is  either  not  given  at  all, 
or  only  incidentally,  and  in  no  case  is 
any  special  value  laid  upon  it.  Tem- 
pelhof  in  his  history  of  the  Seven  Years' 
War  is  the  earliest  writer  who  gives 
it  regularly,  but  at  the  same  time  he 
does  it  only  very  superficially. 

Even  Massenbach,  in  his  manifold 
critical  observations  on  the  Prussian 
campaigns  of  1 793-94  in  the  Yosges,  talks 
a  great  deal  about  hills  and  valleys, 
roads  and  footpaths,  but  does  not  say  a 
syllable  about  mutual  strength. 

Another  proof  lies  in  a  wonderful 
notion  which  haunted  the  heads  of  many 
critical  historians,  according  to  which 
there  was  a  certain  size  of  an  army 
which  was  the  best,  a  normal  strength, 
beyond  which  the  forces  in  excess  were 
burdensome  rather  then  serviceable.* 

*  Tempelhof  and  Montalembert  are  the  first  wo 



[book  ni. 

Lastly,  there  are  a  number  of  instances 
to  be  found,  in  which  all  the  available 
forces  were  not  really  brought  into  the 
battle,  or  into  the  war,  because  the 
superiority  of  numbers  was  not  considered 
to  have  that  importance  which  in  the 
nature  of  things  belongs  to  it. 

If  we  are  tiboroughly  penetrated  with 
the  conyiction  that  with  a  considerable 
superiority  of  numbers  everything  pos- 
sible is  to  be  effected,  then  it  cannot  fail 
that  this  dear  conviction  reacts  on  the 
preparations  for  the  war,  so  as  to  make  us 
appear  in  the  field  with  as  many  troops 
as  possible,  and  either  to  give  us  our- 
selves the  superiority,  or  at  least  to  guard 
against  the  enemy  obtaining  it.  So  much 
for  what  concerns  the  absolute  force  with 
which  the  war  is  to  be  conducted. 

The  measure  of  this  absolute  force  is 
determined  by  the  government;  and 
although  with  this  determination  the  real 
action  of  war  commences,  and  it  forms 
an  essential  part  of  the  strategy  of  the 
war,  still  in  most  cases  the  general 
who  is  to  command  these  forces  in  the 
war  must  regard  their  absolute  strength 
as  a  given  quantity,  whether  it  be  that 
he  has  had  no  voice  in  fiscing  it,  or  that 
circumstances  prevented  a  sufficient  ex- 
pansion being  given  to  it. 

There  remains  nothing,  therefore,  where 
an  absolute  superiority  is  not  attainable, 
but  to  produce  a  relative  one  at  the 
decisive  point,  by  making  skilful  use  of 
what  we  have. 

The  calculation  of  space  and  time  ap- 
pears as  the  most  essential  thing  to  this 
end,  and  this  has  caused  that  subject  to 
be  regarded  as  one  which  embraces  nearly 
the  whole  art  of  using  military  forces. 
Indeed,  some  have  gone  so  far  as  to  ascribe 
to  great  strategists  and  tacticians  a  mental 
organ  peculiarly  adapted  to  this  point. 

But  the  calculation  of  time  and  space, 

recollect  as  examples — the  first  in  a  passage  of  his 
first  part,  page  148 ;  the  other  in  his  correspondence 
relative  to  the  plan  of  opemtions  of  the  Russians  in 

although  it  lies  imiversally  at  the  founda- 
tion of  strategy,  and  is  to  a  certain  extent 
its  daily  bread,  is  still  neither«the  most 
difficult,  nor  the  most  decisive  one. 

If  we  take  an  imprejudiced  glance  at 
military  history,  we  shall  find  that  the 
instances  in  which  mistakes  in  such  a  cal- 
culation have  proved  the  cause  of  serious 
losses  are  very  rare,  at  least  in  strategy. 
But  if  the  conception  of  a  skilful  com- 
bination of  time  and  space  is  fully  to 
account  for  every  instance  of  a  resolute 
and  active  commander  beating  several 
separate  opponents  with  one  and  the 
same  army  (Frederick  the  Great,  Buo- 
naparte), then  we  perplex  ourselves  un- 
necessarily with  conventional  language. 
For  the  sake  of  clearness  and  the  profit- 
able use  of  conceptions,  it  is  necessary 
that  things  should  always  be  called  by 
their  right  names. 

The  right  appreciation  of  their  oppo- 
nents (Daun,  Schwartzenburg),  the  au- 
dacity to  leave  for  a  short  space  of  time 
a  small  force  only  before  them,  energy  in 
forced  marches,  boldness  in  sudden  at- 
tacks, the  intensified  activity  which  great 
souls  acquire  in  the  moment  of  danger, 
these  are  the  grounds  of  such  victories ; 
and  what  have  these  to  do  with  the 
ability  to  make  an  exact  calculation  of 
two  such  simple  things  as  time  and 
space  ? 

But  even  this  ricochetting  play  of 
forces,  ''when  the  victories  at  Bosbach 
and  Montmirail  give  the  impulse  to  vic- 
tories at  Leuthen  and  Montereau,"  to 
which  great  generals  on  the.  defensive 
have  often  trusted,  is  still,  if  we  would  be 
clear  and  exact,  only  a  rare  occurrence 
in  history. 

Much  more  frequently  the  relative  su- 
periority— ^that  is,  the  skilful  assemblage 
of  superior  forces  at  the  decisive  point — 
has  its  foundation  in  the  right  apprecia- 
tion of  those  points,  in  the  judidoiis 
direction  which  by  that  means  has  been 
given  to  the  forces  from  the  very  first,  and 
in  the  resolution  required  to  sacrifice  the 

CHAP.  IX.] 



unimportcuit  to  the  advantage  of  the  im- 
portant— that  18,  to  keep  the  forces  con- 
centrated in  an  overpowering  mass.  In 
this,  Frederick  the  Great  and  Buonaparte 
are  particularly  characteristic. 

We  think  we  have  now  allotted  to  the 
superiority  in  numbers  the  importance 
which  belongs  to  it ;  it  is  to  be  regarded 
as  the  fundamental  idea^  always  to  be 
aimed  at  before  all  and  as  far  as  possible. 

But  to  regard  it  on  this  account  as  a 

necessaiy  condition  of  victory,  would  be  a 
complete  misconception  of  our  exposition; 
in  the  conclusion  to  be  drawn  from  it 
there  lies  much  rather  nothing  more 
than  the  value  which  should  attach  to 
numerical  strength  in  the  combat.  If 
that  strength  is  made  as  great  as  possible, 
then  the  maxim  is  satisfied ;  a  review  of 
the  total  relations  must  then  decide  whe- 
ther or  not  the  combat  is  to  be  avoided 
for  want  of  sufficient  force. 



Fbom  the  subject  of  the  foregoing  chap- 
ter, the  general  endeavour  to  attain  a 
relative  superiority,  there  follows  another 
endeavour  which  must  consequently  be 
just  as  general  in  its  nature  :  this  is  the 
turpriu  of  the  enemy.  It  lies  more  or 
less  at  the  foundation  of  all  undertakings, 
for  without  it  the  preponderance  at  the 
decisive  point  is  not  properly  conceivable. 
The  surprise  is,  therefore,  the  medium 
to  numerical  superiority;  but  it  is  besides 
that  also  to  be  regarded  as  a  substantive 
principle  in  itseK,  on  aecoimt  of  its  moral 
effect.  When  it  is  successful  in  a  high 
degree,  confusion  and  broken  courage  in 
the  enemy's  ranks  are  the  consequences  ; 
and  of  the  degree  to  which  these  multiply 
a  success,  there  are  examples  enough, 
g^at  and  small.  We  are  not,  on  this 
account,  speaking  now  of  the  particular 
surprise  which  belongs  to  the  attack,  but 
of  the  endeavour  by  measures  generally, 
and  especially  by  the  distribution  of 
forces,  to  surprise  the  enemy,  which  can 
be  imagined  just  as  weU  in  the  defensive. 

and  which  in  the  tactical  defence  parti- 
cularly is  a  great  chief  point. 

We  say,  surprise  lies  at  the  foundation 
of  all  undertakings  without  exception, 
only  in  very  different  degrees  according 
to  the  nature  of  the  imdertaking  and  other 

This  difference,  indeed,  commences  in 
the  properties  or  peculiarities  of  the 
army  and  its  commander,  in  those  even 
of  the  government. 

Secrecy  and  rapidity  are  the  two  fac- 
tors of  this  product;  and  these  suppose  in 
the  government  and  the  commander-in- 
chief  great  energy,  and  on  the  part  of  the 
army  a  high  sense  of  militaiy  duty.  With 
effeminacy  and  loose  principles  it  is  in 
vain  to  calculate  upon  a  surprise.  But 
so  general,  indeed  so  indispensable,  as  is 
this  endeavour,  and  true  as  it  is  that  it 
is  never  wholly  unproductive  of  effect, 
still  it  is  not  the  less  true  that  it  seldom 
succeeds  to  a  remarkahle  degree,  and  that 
this  is  in  the  nature  of  the  thing.  We 
should  form   an   erroneous  idea    if  we 




[book  iu. 

belieyed  that  by  this  means  chiefly  there 
is  much  to  be  attained  in  war.  In  idea 
it  promises  a  great  deal;  in  the  execution 
it  generally  sticks  fast  by  the  friction  of 
the  whole  machine. 

In  tactics  the  surprise  is  much  more  at 
home,  for  the  very  natural  reason  that 
all  times  and  spaces  are  on  a  smaller 
scale.  It  will,  tiierefore,  in  strategy  be 
the  more  feasible  in  proportion  as  the 
measures  lie  nearer  to  the  province  of 
tactics,  and  more  difficult  the  higher  up 
they  lie  towards  the  province  of  policy. 

The  preparations  for  a  war  usually 
occupy  several  months ;  the  assembly  of 
an  army  at  its  principal  positions  requires 
generally  the  formation  of  depots  and 
magazines,  and  long  marches,  tiie  object 
of  which  can  be  guessed  soon  enough. 

It  therefore  rarely  happens  that  one 
State  surprises  another  by  a  war,  or  by 
the  direction  which  it  gives  the  mass  of 
its  forces.  In  the  seventeenth  and 
eighteenth  centuries,  when  war  turned 
very  much  upon  sieges,  it  was  a  frequent 
aim,  and  quite  a  peculiar  and  important 
chapter  in  the  art  of  war,  to  invest  a 
strong  place  unexpectedly,  and  even  that 
only  re  rely  succeeded. 

On  the  other  hand,  with  things  which 
can  be  done  in  a  day  or  two,  a  surprise 
is  much  more  conceivable,  and,  therefore, 
also  it  is  often  not  difficult  then  to  gain 
a  march  upon  the  enemy,  and  thereby  a 
position,  a  point  of  country,  a  road,  etc. 
But  it  is  evident  that  what  surprise  gains 
in  this  way  in  easy  execution,  it  loses  in 
the  efficacy,  as  the  greater  the  efficacy  the 
greater  always  the  difficulty  of  execu- 
tion. Whoever  thinks  that  with  such  sur- 
prises on  a  small  scale,  he  may  connect 
great  results — as,  for  example,  tlie  gain  of 
a  battle,  the  capture  of  an  important  ma- 
gazine— believes  in  something  which  it  is 
ot»rtaiuly  very  possible  to  imagine,  but 
which  there  is  no  warrant  for  in  history ; 
for  there  are  upon  the  whole  very  few 
instances  where  an^nhing  great'  has 
resulted  from  such  surprises;  from  which 

we  may  justly  conclude  that  inhe- 
rent difficidties  lie  in  the  way  of  their 

Certainly,  whoever  would  consxdt  his- 
tory on  such  points  must  not  depend  on 
sundry  battle  steeds  of  historical  critics, 
on  their  wise  dicta  and  self  complacent 
terminology,  but  look  at  facts  with  his 
own  eyes.  There  is,  for  instance,  a  cer- 
tain day  in  the  campaign  in  Silesia,  1761, 
which,  in  this  respect,  has  attained  a 
kind  of  notoriety.  It  is  the  22nd  July, 
on  which  Frederick  the  Great  grained  on 
Laudon  the  march  to  Nossen,  near  Neisse, 
by  which,  as  is  said,  the  junction  of  the 
Austrian  and  Kussian  armies  in  Upper 
SUesia  bec£une  impossible,  and,  therefore, 
a  period  of  four  weeks  was  gained  by  the 
King.  Whoever  reads  over  this  occur- 
rence carefully  in  the  principal  histories,* 
and  considers  it  impartially,  will,  in  the 
march  of  the  22nd  July,  never  find  this 
importance  ;  and  geneitdly  in  the  whole 
of  the  fashionable  log^c  on  this  subject, 
he  will  see  nothing  but  contradictions;  but 
in  the  proceedings  of  Laudon,  in  this  re- 
nowned period  of  manoeuvres,  much  that 
is  unaccountable.  How  could  one,  with 
a  thirst  for  truth  and  clear  conviction, 
accept  such  historical  evidence  ? 

When  we  promise  ourselves  great 
effects  in  a  campaign  from  the  principle 
of  surprising,  we  think  upon  great 
activity,  rapid  resolutions,  and  forced 
marches,  as  the  means  of  producing 
them ;  but  that  these  things,  even  when 
forthcoming  in  a  veiy  high  degree,  wiU 
not  always  produce  the  desired  effect^ 
we  see  in  examples  given  by  two 
generals,  who  may  be  allowed  to  have 
had  the  greatest  talent  in  the  use  of 
these  means,  Frederick  the  Great  and 
Buonaparte.  The  first  when  ho  left 
Dresden  so  suddenly  in  July,  1760,  and 
falling  upon  Lascy,  then  turned  against 

•  Tempelhof,  The  Veteiwi,  Frederick  the  Great. 
Compuvalso  ^CUusewiu)  '^Hinterlftsscne  Werke,*' 

CHAP.  IZ.3 




Dresden,  gained  nothing  bj  the  whole  of 
that  intermezzo,  but  rather  placed  his 
affairs  in  a  condition  notably  worse, 
as  Glatz  fell  in  the  mean  time. 

In  1813,  Buonaparte  turned  suddenly 
from  Dresden  twice  against  Bliicher,  to 
say  nothing  of  his  incursion  into  Bohemia 
from  Upper  Lusatia,  and  both  times 
without  in  the  least  measure  attaining 
his  object  They  were  blows  in  the  air 
which  only  cost  him  time  and  force,  and 
might  have  placed  him  in  a  dangerous 
position  in  Dresden. 

Therefore,  even  in  this  field,  a  surprise 
does  not  necessarily  meet  with  great  suc- 
cess through  the  mere  activity,  energy, 
and  resolution  of  the  commander ;  it  must 
be  favoured  by  other  circumstances.  But 
we  by  no  means  deny  that  there  can  be 
success;  w^e  only  connect  with  it  a  necessity 
of  favourable  circumstances,  which,  cer- 
tainly, do  not  occur  very  frequently,  ajid 
>%  hich  the  commander  can  seldom  bring 
about  himself. 

Just  those  two  generals  afford  each  a 
striking  illustration  of  this.  We  take 
first  Buonaparte  in  his  famous  enterprise 
against  Blucher's  army  in  1814,  when  it 
was  separated  from  the  Grand  Army,  and 
descending  the  Mame.  It  would  not  be 
easy  to  find  a  two  days'  march  to  surprise 
the  enemy  productive  of  greater  results 
than  this  ;  BlUcher's  army,  extended  over 
a  distance  of  three  days'  march,  was 
beaten  in  detail,  and  sufiered  a  loss 
nearly  equal  to  that  of  defeat  in  a  great 
battle.  This  was  completely  the  effect  of 
a  surprise,  for  if  Blucher  had  thought  of 
such  a  near  possibility  of  an  attack  from 
Buonaparte  he  would  have  organised  his 
march  quite  differently.  To  this  mistake 
of  BlUcher's  the  result  is  to  be  attributed. 
Buonaparte  did  not  know  all  these 
circumstances,  and  so  there  was  a  piece 
of  good  fortune  that  mixed  itself  up  in 
his  favour. 

It  is  the  8£une  with  the  battle  of 
Liegnitz,  1760.  Frederick  the  Great 
gained  this  fine  victory  through  altering 

during  the  night  a  position  which  he  had 
just  before  taken  up.  Laudon  was 
through  this  completely  surprised,  and 
lost  70  pieces  of  artillery  and  1 0, 000  men. 
Although  Frederick  the  Great  had  at 
this  time  adopted  the  principle  of  moving 
backwards  and  forwards  in  order  to  make 
a  battle  impossible,  or  at  least  to  dis- 
concert the  enemy's  plans,  still  the  altera- 
tion of  position  on  the  night  of  the  14- 
15  was  not  made  exactly  with  that  inten- 
tion, but  as  the  King  himself  says, 
because  the  position  of  the  14th  did  not 
please  him.  Here,  therefore,  also  chance 
was  hard  at  work ;  without  this  happy 
conjunction  of  the  attack  and  the  change 
of  position  in  the  night,  and  the  difficult 
nature  of  the  country,  the  result  would 
not  have  been  the  same. 

Also  in  the  higher  and  highest  province 
of  Strategy  there  are  some  instances  of 
surprises  fruitful  in  results.  We  shall 
only  cite  the  brilliant  marches  of  the 
great  elector  against  the  Swedes  from 
Franconia  to  Fomerania,  and  from  the 
Mark  (Brandenburg)  to  the  Pregel  in 
1757,  and  the  celebrated  passage  of  the 
Alps  by  Buonaparte,  1800.  In  the  latter 
cajse  an  army  gave  up  its  whole  theatre 
of  war  by  a  capitulation,  and  in  1757 
another  army  was  very  near  giving  up 
its  theatre  of  war  and  itself  as  weU. 
Lastly,  as  an  instance  of  a  war  wholly 
unexpected,  we  may  bring  forward  the 
invasion  of  Silesia  by  Frederick  the 
Great.  Great  and  powerful  are  here  the 
results  everywhere,  but  such  events  are 
not  common  in  history  if  we  do  not 
confuse  with  them  cases  in  which  a  state, 
for  want  of  activity  and  energy  (Saxony 
1756,  and  Eussia,  1812),  has  not  com- 
pleted its  preparations. 

Now  there  stiU  remains  an  observation 
which  concerns  the  essence  of  the  thing. 
A  surprise  can  only  be  effected  by  that 
party  which  gives  the  law  to  the  other ; 
and  he,  who  is  in  the  right  gives  the  law. 
If  we  surprise  the  adversary  by  a  wrong 
measure,  then  instead  of  reaping  good 



[book  m. 

results,  we  may  have  to  bear  a  sound 
blow  in  return ;  in  any  case  the  adversary 
need  not  trouble  himself  much  about  our 
surprise,  he  has  in  our  mistake  the 
means  of  turning  off  the  evil.  As  the 
offensive  includes  in  itself  much  more 
positive  action  than  the  defensive,  so  the 
surprise  is  certainly  more  in  its  place 
with  the  assailant,  but  by  no  means 
invariably,  as  we  shall  hereafter  see. 
Mutual  surprises  by  the  offensive  and 
defensive  may  therefore  meet,  and  then 
that  one  will  have  the  advantage  who 
has  hit  the  nail  on  the  head  the  best. 

So  should  it  be,  but  practical  life  does 
not  keep  to  this  line  so  exactly,  and  that 
for  a  very  simple  reason.  The  moral  effects 
which  attend  a  surprise  often  convert 

the  worst  case  into  a  good  one  for  the 
side  they  favour,  and  do  not  allow  the 
other  to  make  any  regular  determination. 
We  have  here  in  view  more  than  any- 
where else  not  only  the  chief  com- 
mander, but  each  single  one,  because  a 
surprise  has  the  effect  in  particular  of 
greatly  loosening  imity,  so  that  the 
individuality  of  each  separate  leader 
easily  comes  to  light. 

Much  depends  here  on  the  general 
relation  in  which  the  two  parties  stand 
to  each  other.  If  the  one  side  through  a 
general  moral  superiority  can  intimidate 
and  outdo  the  other,  then  he  can  make 
use  of  the  surprise  with  more  success, 
and  even  reap  good  fruit  where  properly 
he  should  come  to  ruin. 



Stratagem  implies  a  concealed  intention, 
and  therefore  is  opposed  to  straightfor- 
ward dealing,  in  the  same  way  as  wit  is 
the  opposite  of  direct  proof.  It  has  there- 
fore nothing  in  common  with  means  of 
persuasion,  of  self-interest,  of  force,  but  a 
great  deal  to  do  with  deceit,  because  that 
likewise  conceals  its  object.  It  is  itself 
a  deceit  as  well  when  it  is  done,  but 
still  it  differs  from  what  is  commonly 
called  deceit,  in  this  respect  that  there  is 
no  direct  breach  of  woni.  The  deceiver 
by  stratagem  leaves  it  to  the  person  him- 
self whom  he  is  deceiving  to  commit  the 
errors  of  imderstcmding  which  at  last, 
flowing  into  one  result,  suddenly  change 
the  nature  of  things  in  his  eyes.  We 
may  therefore  say,  as  Vfii  is  a  sleight  of 
hand    with    ideas    and    conceptions,   so 

stratagem  is  a  sleight  of  hand  with 

At  first  sight  it  appears  as  if  strategy 
had  not  improperly  derived  its  name 
from  stratagem ;  and  that,  with  all  the 
real  and  apparent  changes  which  the 
whole  character  of  war  has  undergone 
since  the  time  of  the  Greeks,  this  term 
still  points  to  its  real  nature. 

If  we  leave  to  tactics  the  actual 
delivery  of  the  blow,  the  battle  itself  and 
look  upon  strategy  as  the  art  of  using 
this  means  with  skill,  then  besides  the 
forces  of  the  character,  such  as  burning 
ambition  which  always  presses  like  a 
spring,  a  strong  will  which  hardly  bends 
etc.,  etc.,  there  seems  no  subjective 
quality  so  suited  to  guide  and  inspire 
strategic    activity    as    stratagem.     The 

CHAP.  X.] 



general  tendency  to  Burprise,  treated  of 
in  the  foregoing  chapter,  points  to  this 
conclusion,  for  there  is  a  degree  of  stra- 
tagem, be  it  ever  so  small,  which  lies  at 
the  foundation  of  every  attempt  to  sur- 

But  however  much  we  feel  a  desire  to 
see  the  actors  in  war  outdo  each  other 
in  hidden  activity,  readiness,  and  stra- 
tagem, still  we  must  admit  that  these 
qualities  show  themselves  but  little  in 
history,  and  have  rarely  been  able  to 
work  their  way  to  the  surface  from 
amongst  the  mass  of  relations  and  cir- 

The  explanation  of  this  is  obvious, 
and  it  is  almost  identical  with  the  subject 
matter  of  the  preceding  chapter. 

Strategy  knows  no  other  activity  than 
the  reg^ulating  of  combat  with  the  mea- 
sures which  relate  to  it.  It  has  no  con- 
cern, like  ordinary  life,  with  transactions 
which  consist  merely  of  words — that  is, 
in  expressions,  declarations,  etc.  But 
these,  which  are  very  inexpensive,  are 
chiefly  the  means  with  which  the  wily 
one  takes  in  those  he  practises  upon. 

That  which  there  is  like  it  in  war, 
plans  and  orders  given  merely  as  make- 
believes,  false  reports  sent  on  purpose  to 
the  enemy — is  usually  of  so  little  effect 
in  the  strategic  field  that  it  is  only  re- 
sorted to  in  particular  cases  which  offer 
of  themselves,  therefore  cannot  be  re- 
garded as  spontaneous  action  which  ema- 
nates from  the  leader. 

But  such  measures  as  carrjring  out 
the  arrangements  for  a  battle,  so  far  as 
to  impose  upon  the  enemy,  require  a 
considerable  expenditure  of  time  and 
power;  of  course,  the  greater  the  im- 
pression to  be  made,  the  greater  the  ex- 
penditure in  these  respects.  And  as  this 
is  usually  not  given  for  the  purpose,  very 

few  demonstrations,  so-called,  in  strategy, 
effect  the  object  for  which  they  are  de- 
signed. In  fact,  it  is  dangerous  to  de- 
tach large  forces  for  any  length  of  time 
merely  for  a  trick,  because  there  is  always 
the  risk  of  its  being  done  in  vain,  and 
then  these  forces  are  wanted  at  the  deci- 
sive point. 

The  chief  actor  in  war  is  always  tho- 
roughly sensible  of  this  sober  truth,  and 
therefore  he  has  no  desire  to  play  at 
tricks  of  agility.  The  bitter  earnest- 
ness of  necessity  presses  so  fully  into 
direct  action  that  there  is  no  room  for 
that  game.  In  a  word,  the  pieces  on  the 
strategical  chess-board  want  that  mobi- 
lity which  is  the  element  of  stratagem 
and  subtilty. 

The  condusion  which  we  draw,  is  that 
a  correct  and  penetrating  eye  is  a  more 
necessary  and  more  useful  quality  for  a 
general  than  craftiness,  al&ough  that 
also  does  no  harm  if  it  does  not  exist  at 
the  expense  of  necessary  qualities  of 
the  heart,  which  is  only  too  often  the  case. 

But  the  weaker  the  forces  become 
which  are  under  the  command  of  stra- 
tegy, so  much  the  more  they  become 
adapted  for  stratagem,  so  that  to  the 
quite  feeble  and  little,  for  whom  no  pru- 
dence, no  sagacity  is  any  longer  sufficient 
at  the  point  where  all  art  seems  to  for- 
sake him,  stratagem  offers  itself  as  a  last 
resource.  The  more  helpless  his  situa- 
tion, the  more  everything  presses  to- 
wards one  single,  desperate  blow,  the 
more  readily  stratagem  comes  to  the  aid 
of  his  boldness.  Let  loose  from  all  fur- 
ther calculations,  freed  from  all  concern 
for  the  future,  boldness  and  stratagem 
intensify  each  other,  and  thus  collect  at 
one  point  an  infinitesimal  glimmering 
of  hope  into  a  single  ray,  which  may 
likewise  serve  to  kindle  a  flame. 



[book  ui. 



The  best  strategy  is  always  to  he  very 
strong,  first  generally,  then  at  tlie  deci- 
sive point.  Therefore,  apart  from  the 
energy  which  creates  the  army,  a  work 
which  is  not  always  done  by  the  general, 
there  is  no  more  imperative  and  simpler 
law  for  strategy  than  to  keep  the  forces  con- 
centrated.— No  portion  is  to  be  separated 
from  the  main  body  unless  called  away 
by  some  urgent  necessity.  On  this 
maxim  we  stand  firm,  and  look  upon  it 
as  a  guide  to  be  depended  upon.  What 
are  the  reasonable  grounds  on  which  a 
detachment  of  forces  may  be  made  we 
shall  learn  by  degrees  Then  we  shall 
also  see  that  this  principle  cannot  have 
the  same  general  efifects  in  every  war. 

but  that  these  are  different  according  to 
the  means  and  end. 

It  seems  incredible,  and  yet  it  has 
happened  a  hundred  times,  that  troops 
have  been  divided  and  separated  merely 
through  a  mysterious  feeling  of  conven- 
tional manner,  without  any  clear  percep- 
tion of  the  reason. 

If  the  concentration  of  the  whole  force 
is  acknowledged  as  the  norm,  and 
every  division  and  sepeu-ation  as  an  ex- 
ception which  must  be  justified,  theu 
not  only  will  that  folly  be  completely 
avoided,  but  also  many  an  erroneoiis 
ground  for  separating  troops  will  be 
barred  admission. 



We  have  here  to  deal  with  a  conception 
which  in  real  Kfo  difiPuses  many  kinds  of 
illusory  light,  a  clear  definition  and  deve- 
lopment of  the  idea  is  therefore  necessary, 
and  we  hope  to  be  allowed  a  short 

War  is  the  shock  of  two  opposing 
forces  in  the  collision  with  each  other, 
from  which  it  follows  as  a  matter  of  course 
that  the  stronger  not  only  destroys  the 
other,  but  carries  it  forward  with  it  in  its 
movement.  This  fundamentally  admits 
of  no  successive  action    of  powers,  but 

makes  the  simultaneous  application  of  all 
forces  intended  for  the  shock  appear  as  a 
primordial  law  of  war. 

80  it  is  in  reality,  but  only  so  far  as 
the  struggle  resembles  also  in  reality  a 
mechanical  shock,  but  when  it  consists  in 
a  lasting  mutual  action  of  destructive 
forces,  then  we  can  certainly  imagine  a 
successive  action  of  forces.  This  is  the 
case  in  tactics,  principally  because  fire- 
arms form  the  basis  of  all  tactics,  but 
also  for  other  reasons  as  well.  If  in  fire 
combat    1000  men  are  opposed  to  500, 

CHAP,  xn.] 



then  the  gross  loss  is  calculated  from  the 
amount  of  the  enemy's  force  and  our 
own  ;  1,000  fire  twice  as  many  shots  as 
500,  but  more  shots  will  take  effect  on  the 
1,000  than  on  the  500  because  it  is  assumed 
that  they  stand  in  closer  order  than  the 
other.  If  we  were  to  suppose  the  num- 
ber of  hits  to  be  double,  then  the  losses 
on  each  side  would  be  equal.  From  the 
500  there  would  be  for  example  200  dis- 
abled, and  out  of  the  body  of  1,000  like- 
wise the  same ;  now  if  the  500  had  kept 
another  body  of  equal  number  quite  out 
of  fire,  then  both  sides  would  have  800 
effective  men ;  but  of  these,  on  the  one 
side  there  would  be  500  men  quite  fresh, 
fiiUy  supplied  with  ammunition,  and  in 
their  full  vigour ;  on  the  other  side  only 
800  all  alike  shaken  in  their  order,  in 
want  of  sufficient  ammunition  £bid  weak- 
ened in  physical  force.  The  assumption 
that  the  1,000  men  merely  on  account  of 
their  greater  number  would  lose  twice  as 
many  as  500  would  have  lost  in  their 
place,  is  certainly  not  correct ;  therefore 
the  greater  loss  which  that  side  suffers 
which  has  placed  the  half  of  its  force  in 
reserve,  must  be  regarded  as  a  disadvan- 
tage in  that  original  formation ;  further 
it  must  be  admitted,  that  in  the  generality 
of  cases  the  1,000  men  would  have  the 
advantage  at  the  first  commencement  of 
being  able  to  drive  their  opponent  out 
of  his  position  and  force  him  to  a  retro- 
grade movement ;  now,  whether  these  two 
advantages  are  a  counterpoise  to  the  dis- 
advantage of  finding  ourselves  with  800 
men  to  a  certain  extent  disorganised  by 
the  combat,  opposed  to  an  enemy  who  is 
not  materially  weaker  in  numbers  and 
who  has  500  quite  fresh  troops,  is  one 
that  cannot  be  decided  by  pursuing  an 
analysis  further,  we  must  here  rely  upon 
experience,  and  there  will  scarcely  be  an 
officer  experienced  in  War  who  will  not 
in  the  generality  of  cases  assign  the  ad- 
vantage to  that  side  which  has  the  fresh 

In  this  way  it  becomes  evident  how  the 

employment  of  too  many  forces  in  com- 
bat may  be  disadvantageous  ;  for  what- 
ever advantasres  the  superiority  may  even 
give  in  the  fi^t  moment,  we  may  W  to 
pay  dearly  for  in  the  next.  < 

But  this  danger  only  lasts  as  long  as 
the  disorder,  the  state  of  confusion  and 
weakness  lasts,  in  a  word,  up  to  the  crisis 
which  every  combat  brings  with  it  even 
for  the  conqueror.  Within  the  duration 
of  this  relaxed  state  of  exhaustion,  the 
appearance  of  a  proportionate  number  of 
fresh  troops  is  decisive. 

But  when  this  disordering  effect  of 
victory  stops,  and  therefore  only  the 
moral  superiority  remains  which  every 
victory  gives,  then  it  is  no  longer  possible 
for  fresh  troops  to  restore  the  combat, 
they  would  only  be  carried  along  in  the 
general  movement ;  a  beaten  army  can 
not  be  brought  back  to  victory  a  day 
after  by  means  of  a  strong  reserve. 
Here  we  find  ourselves  at  the  source  of 
a  highly  material  difference  between  tac- 
tics and  strategy. 

The  tactical  results,  the  results  within 
the  four  comers  of  the  battle,  and  before 
its  close,  lie  for  the  most  part  within  the 
limits  of  that  period  of  disorder  and 
weakness.  But  the  strategic  result,  that 
is  to  say,  the  result  of  the  total  combat, 
of  the  victories  realised,  let  them  be 
small  or  great,  lies  completely  (beyond) 
outside  of  that  period.  It  is  only  when 
the  results  of  partial  combats  have  bound 
themselves  together  into  an  independent 
whole,  that  the  strategic  result  appears, 
but  then,  the  state  of  crisis  is  over,  the 
forces  have  resumed  their  original  form, 
and  are  now  only  weakened  to  the  extent 
of  those  actually  destroyed  (placed  hors  de 

The  consequence  of  this  difference  is 
that  tactics  can  make  a  continued  use  of 
forces,  strategy  only  a  simultaneous  one. 

If  I  cannot,  in  tactics,  decide  all  by  the 
first  success,  if  I  have  to  fear  the  next 
moment,  it  follows  of  itself  that  I  employ 
only  so  much  of  my  force  for  the  success 


ON  7FAE; 

[book  ni. 

of  the  first  moment  as  appears  sufficient 
for  that  object,  and  keep  the  rest  beyond 
the  reach  of  fire  or  conflict  of  any  kind, 
in  order  to  be  able  to  oppose  fresh  troops 
to  fresh,  or  with  such  to  overcome  those 
that  are  exhausted.  But  it  is  not  so  in 
strategy.  Partly,  as  we  have  just  shown, 
it  has  not  so  much  reason  to  fear  a  reac- 
tion after  a  success  realised,  because  with 
that  success  the  crisis  stops;  partly  all 
the  forces  strategically  employed  are  not 
necessarily  weakened.  Only  so  much  of 
them  as  has  been  tactically  in  conflict 
with  the  enemy's  force,  that  is,  engaged 
in  partial  combat,  is  weakened  by  it ; 
consequently,  only  so  much  as  was  un- 
avoidably necessary,  but  by  no  means 
all  whicli  was  strategically  in  conflict 
with  the  enemy,  unless  tactics  has 
expended  unnecessarily.  Corps  which, 
on  account  of  the  general  superiority  in 
numbers,  have  either  been  Httle  or  not 
at  all  engaged,  whose  presence  alone  has 
assisted  in  the  result,  are  after  the  deci- 
sion the  same  as  they  were  before,  and 
for  new  enterprises  as  efficient  as  if  they 
had  been  entirely  inactive.  How  greatly 
such  corps  which  thus  constitute  our 
excess  may  contribute  to  the  total  suc- 
cess is  evident  in  itself;  indeed,  it  is  not 
difficult  to  see  how  they  may  even  dimi- 
nish considerably  the  loss  of  the  forces 
engaged  in  tactical  conflict  on  our  side. 

If,  therefore,  in  strategy  the  loss  does 
not  increase  with  the  number  of  the 
troops  employed,  but  is  often  diminished 
by  it,  and  if,  as  a  natural  consequence, 
the  decision  in  our  favour  is,  by  that 
means,  the  more  certain,  then  it  follows 
naturally  that  in  strategy  we  can  never 
employ  too  many  forces,  and  consequently 
also  'diat  they  must  be  applied  simul- 
taneously to  the  immediate  purpose. 

But  we  must  vindicate  this  proposition 
upon  another  ground.  We  have  hitherto 
only  spoken  of  the  combat  itself;  it  is 
the  real  activity  in  war,  but  men,  time,  and 
space,  which  appear  as  the  elements  of 
this  activity,  must,  at  the  same  time,  be 

kept  in  view,  and  the  results  of  their  influ- 
ence brought  into  the  consideration  also. 

Fatigue,  exertion,  and  privation  consti- 
tute in  war  a  special  principle  of  destruc- 
tion, not  essentially  belonging  to  contest, 
but  more  or  less  inseparably  bound  up 
with  it,  and  certainly  one  which  especially 
belongs  to  strategy.  They  no  doubt 
exist  in  tactics  as  well,  and  perhaps  there 
in  the  highest  degree ;  but  as  the  duration 
of  the  tactical  acts  is  shorter,  therefore 
the  small  eflects  of  exertion  and  privation 
on  them  can  come  but  little  into  consi- 
deration.  But  in  strategy  on  the  other 
hand,  where  time  and  space  are  on  a 
larger  scale,  their  influence  is  not  only 
always  very  considerable,  but  often  quite 
decisive.  It  is  not  at  all  uncommon  for 
a  victorious  army  to  lose  many  more  by 
sickness  than  on  the  fleld  of  battle. 

Ifi  therefore,  we  look  at  this  sphere  of 
destruction  in  strategy  in  the  same  manner 
as  we  have  considered  that  of  fire  and 
dose  combat  in  tactics,  then  we  may  well 
imagine  that  everything  which  comes 
within  its  vortex  will,  at  the  end  of  the 
campaign  or  of  any  other  strategic 
period,  be  reduced  to  a  state  of  weak- 
ness, which  makes  the  arrival  of  a 
fresh  force  decisive.  We  might  there- 
fore conclude  that  there  is  a  motive  in 
the  one  case  or  well  or  the  other  to  strive 
for  the  first  success  with  as  few  forces  as 
possible,  in  order  to  keep  up  this  fresh 
force  for  the  last. 

In  order  to  estimate  exactly  this  con- 
clusion, which,  in  many  cases  in  practice, 
will  have  a  great  appearance  of  truth, 
we  must  direct  our  attention  to  the  sepa- 
rate ideas  which  it  contains.  In  the  first 
place,  we  must  not  confuse  the  notion  of 
reinforcement  with  that  of  fresh  unused 
troops.  There  are  few  campaigns  at  the 
end  of  which  a  new  increase  of  force  is 
not  earnestly  desired  by  the  conqueror 
as  well  as  the  conquered,  and  indeed 
should  appear  decisive ;  but  that  is  not 
the  point  here,  for  that  increase  of  force 
could  not  be  necessary  if  the  force  had 

OHAP.  xn.] 



been  that  mudi  larger  at  the  first.  But 
it  would  be  contrary  to  all  experience  to 
suppose  that  an  army  coming  fresh  into 
the  field  is  to  be  esteemed  higher  in  point 
of  moral  value  than  an  army  already  in 
the  field,  just  as  a  tactical  reserve  is  more 
to  be  esteemed  than  a  body  of  troops 
which  has  been  already  severely  handled 
in  the  fight.  Just  as  much  as  an  unfortu- 
nate campaign  lowers  the  courage  and 
moral  powers  of  an  army,  a  successful  one 
raises  these  elements  in  their  value.  In 
the  generality  of  cases,  therefore,  these 
influences  are  compensated,  and  then 
there  remains  over  and  above  as  clear 
gain  the  habituation  to  war.  We  should 
besides  look  more  here  to  success^  than 
to  unsuccessful  campaigns,  because  when 
the  greaterprobability  of  the  latter  maybe 
seen  beforehand,  without  doubt  forces  are 
wanted,  and,  therefore,  the  reserving  a  por- 
tion for  future  use  is  out  of  the  question. 

This  point  being  settled,  then  the 
question  is,  Do  the  losses  which  a  force 
sustains  through  fatigues  and  privations 
increase  in  proportion  to  the  size  of  the 
force,  as  is  the  case  in  a  combat?  And  to 
that  we  answer  **  No." 

The  fatigues  of  war  result  in  a  great 
measure  from  the  dangers  with  which 
every  moment  of  the  act  of  war  is  more 
or  less  impregnated.  To  encounter  these 
dangers  at  all  points,  to  proceed  onwards 
with  security  in  the  execution  of  one's 
plans,  that  gives  employment  to  a  mul- 
titude of  agencies  which  make  up  the 
tactical  and  strategic  service  of  the  army. 
This  service  is  more  difficult  the  weaker 
an  army  is,  and  easier  as  its  numerical 
superiority  over  that  of  the  enemy  in- 
creases. Who  can  doubt  this  ?  A  cam- 
paign against  a  much  weaker  enemy  will 
therefore  cost  smaller  efibrts  than  against 
one  just  as  strong  or  stronger. 

So  much  for  the  fatigues.  It  is  some- 
what different  with  the  privations ;  they 
consiBt  chiefly  of  two  things,  the  want  of 
food,  and  the  want  of  shelter  for  the 
troops,  either  in  quarters  or  in  suitable 

camps.  Both  these  wants  wiU  no  doubt 
be  greater  in  proportion  as  the  number 
of  men  on  one  spot  is  greater.  But  does 
not  the  superiority  in  force  just  afford 
also  the  best  means  of  spreading  out  and 
finding  more  room,  and  therefore  more 
means  of  subsistence  and  shelter  ? 

If  Buonaparte,  in  his  invasion  of  Bussia 
in  IS  12,  concentrated  his  army  in  great 
masses  upon  one  single  road  in  a  manner 
never  heard  of  before,  and  thus  caused 
privations  equally  unparaUeled,  we  must 
ascribe  it  to  his  maxim  that  it  is  impossible 
to  he  too  strong  at  the  decisive  point.  Whe- 
ther in  this  instance  he  did  not  strain  the 
principle  too  far  is  a  question  which 
would  be  out  of  place  here;  but  it  is  cer- 
tain that,  if  he  had  made  a  point  of  avoid- 
ing the  distress  which  was  by  that  means 
brought  about,  he  had  only  to  advance 
on  a  greater  breadth  of  front.  Boom  was 
not  wanted  for  the  purpose  in  Bussia, 
and  in  very  few  cases  can  it*  be  wanted. 
Therefore,  from  this  no  ground  can  be 
deduced  to  prove  that  the  simultaneous 
employment  of  very  superior  forces  must 
produce  greater  weakening.  But  now, 
supposing  that  in  spite  of  the  general 
relief  afforded  by  setting  apart  a  portion 
of  the  army,  wind  and  weather  and  the 
toils  of  war  had  produced  a  diminution 
even  on  the  part  which  as  a  spare  force 
had  been  reserved  for  later  use,  still  we 
must  take  a  comprehensive  general  view 
of  the  whole,  and  therefore  ask.  Will  this 
diminution  of  force  suffice  to  counter- 
balance the  gain  in  forces,  which  we, 
through  our  superiority  in  numbers,  may 
be  able  to  make  in  more  ways  than  one  ? 

But  there  still  remains  a  most  impor- 
tant point  to  be  noticed.  In  a  partial 
combat,  the  force  required  to  obtain  a 
great  residt,  which  has  been  proposed, 
can  be  approximately  estimated  without 
much  difficulty,  and,  consequently,  we  can 
form  an  idea  of  what  is  super^uous.  In 
strategy  this  may  be  said  to  be  impossible, 
because  the  strategic  result  has  no  such 
well-defined  object  and  no  such  circum- 



[book  nr. 

Lastly,  there  are  a  number  of  instances 
to  be  found,  in  which  all  the  available 
forces  were  not  really  brought  into  the 
battle,  or  into  the  war,  because  the 
superiority  of  numbers  was  not  considered 
to  have  that  importance  which  in  the 
nature  of  things  belongs  to  it. 

If  we  are  thoroughly  penetrated  with 
the  conviction  that  wi^  a  considerable 
superiority  of  numbers  everything  pos- 
sible is  to  be  effected,  then  it  cannot  fail 
that  this  clear  conviction  reacts  on  the 
preparations  for  the  war,  so  as  to  make  us 
appear  in  the  field  with  as  many  troops 
as  possible,  and  either  to  give  us  our- 
selves the  superiority,  or  at  least  to  guard 
against  the  enemy  obtaining  it.  So  much 
for  what  concerns  the  absolute  force  with 
which  the  war  is  to  be  conducted. 

The  measure  of  this  absolute  force  is 
determined  by  the  government;  and 
although  with  this  determination  the  real 
action  of  war  commences,  and  it  forms 
an  essential  part  of  the  strategy  of  the 
war,  still  in  most  cases  the  general 
who  is  to  command  these  forces  in  the 
war  must  regard  their  absolute  strength 
as  a  given  quantity,  whether  it  be  that 
he  has  had  no  voice  in  fixing  it,  or  that 
circumstances  prevented  a  sufficient  ex- 
pansion being  given  to  it. 

There  remains  nothing,  therefore,  where 
an  absolute  superiority  is  not  attainable, 
but  to  produce  a  relative  one  at  the 
decisive  point,  by  making  skilful  use  of 
what  we  have. 

The  calculation  of  space  and  time  ap- 
pears as  the  most  essential  thing  to  this 
end,  and  this  has  caused  that  subject  to 
be  regarded  as  one  which  embraces  nearly 
the  whole  art  of  using  military  forces. 
Indeed,  some  have  gone  so  far  as  to  ascribe 
to  great  strategists  and  tacticians  a  mental 
organ  peculiarly  adapted  to  this  point. 

But  the  calculation  of  time  and  space, 

recollect  as  examples — the  first  in  a  passage  of  his 
first  part,  page  148 ;  the  other  in  his  correspondence 
relative  to  the  plan  of  operations  of  the  Russians  in 

although  it  lies  universally  at  the  founda- 
tion of  strategy,  and  is  to  a  certain  extent 
its  daily  bread,  is  still  neitherwthe  most 
difficult,  nor  the  most  decisive  one. 

If  we  take  an  unprejudiced  glance  at 
military  history,  we  shall  find  that  the 
instances  in  which  mistakes  in  such  a  cal- 
culation have  proved  the  cause  of  serious 
losses  are  very  rare,  at  least  in  strategy. 
But  if  the  conception  of  a  skilful  com- 
bination of  time  and  space  is  fully  to 
account  for  every  instance  of  a  resolute 
and  active  commander  beating  several 
separate  opponents  with  one  and  the 
same  army  (Frederick  the  Great,  Buo- 
naparte), then  we  perplex  ourselves  un- 
necessarily with  conventional  language. 
For  the  sake  of  clearness  and  the  profit- 
able use  of  conceptions,  it  is  necessary 
that  things  should  always  be  called  by 
their  right  names. 

The  right  appreciation  of  their  oppo- 
nents (Daun,  Schwartzenburg),  the  au- 
dacity to  leave  for  a  short  space  of  time 
a  small  force  only  before  them,  energy  in 
forced  marches,  boldness  in  sudden  at- 
tacks, the  intensified  activity  which  g^at 
souls  acquire  in  the  moment  of  danger, 
these  are  the  grounds  of  such  victories ; 
and  what  have  these  to  do  with  the 
ability  to  make  an  exact  calculation  of 
two  such  simple  things  as  time  and 
space  ? 

But  even  this  ricochetting  play  of 
forces,  "when  the  victories  at  Bosbach 
and  Montmirail  give  the  impulse  to  vic- 
tories at  Leuthen  and  Montereau,"  to 
which  g^eat  generals  on  the*  defensive 
have  often  trusted,  is  still,  if  we  would  be 
clear  and  exact,  only  a  rare  occurrence 
in  history. 

Much  more  frequently  the  relative  su- 
periority— ^that  is,  the  skilful  assemblage 
of  superior  forces  at  the  decisive  point- 
has  its  foundation  in  the  right  apprecia- 
tion of  those  points,  in  the  judicious 
direction  which  by  that  means  has  been 
given  to  the  forces  from  the  very  first,  and 
in  the  resolution  required  to  sacrifice  the 

CHAP.  IX.] 



unimportant  to  the  advantage  of  the  im- 
portant— that  is,  to  keep  the  forces  con- 
centrated in  an  overpowering  mass.  In 
this,  Frederick  the  Great  and  Buonaparte 
are  particularly  charcM^teristic. 

We  think  we  have  now  allotted  to  the 
superiority  in  numbers  the  importance 
which  belongs  to  it ;  it  is  to  be  regarded 
as  the  fundamental  idea,  always  to  be 
aimed  at  before  all  and  as  far  as  possible. 

But  to  regard  it  on  this  account  as  a 

necessary  condition  of  victoiy,  would  be  a 
complete  misconception  of  our  exposition; 
in  the  conclusion  to  be  drawn  from  it 
there  lies  much  rather  nothing  more 
than  the  value  which  should  attach  to 
numerical  strength  in  the  combat.  If 
that  strength  is  made  as  groat  as  possible, 
then  the  maxim  is  satisfied ;  a  review  of 
the  total  relations  must  then  decide  whe- 
ther or  not  the  combat  is  to  be  avoided 
fdr  want  of  sufficient  force. 



Fbom  the  subject  of  the  foregoing  chap- 
ter, the  general  endeavour  to  attain  a 
relative  superiority,  there  follows  another 
endeavour  which  must  consequently  be 
just  as  general  in  its  nature  :  this  is  the 
surprise  of  the  enemy.  It  Kes  more  or 
less  at  the  foundation  of  all  undertakings, 
for  without  it  the  preponderance  at  Uie 
decisive  point  is  not  properly  conceivable. 
The  surprise  is,  therefore,  the  medium 
to  numerical  superiority;  but  it  is  besides 
that  also  to  be  regarded  as  a  substantive 
principle  in  itself,  on  account  of  its  moral 
effect.  When  it  is  successful  in  a  high 
degree,  confusion  and  broken  courage  in 
the  enemy's  ranks  are  the  consequences  ; 
and  of  the  degree  to  which  these  multiply 
a  success,  there  are  examples  enough, 
great  and  small.  We  are  not,  on  this 
account,  speaking  now  of  the  particular 
surprise  which  belongs  to  the  attack,  but 
of  the  endeavour  by  measures  generally, 
and  especially  by  the  distribution  of 
forces,  to  surprise  the  enemy,  which  can 
be  imagined  just  as  well  in  the  defensive. 

and  which  in  the  tactical  defence  peurti- 
cularly  is  a  great  chief  point. 

We  say,  surprise  lies  at  the  foundation 
of  all  undertakings  without  exception, 
only  in  very  different  degrees  according 
to  the  nature  of  the  undertaking  and  other 

This  difference,  indeed,  commences  in 
the  properties  or  peculiarities  of  the 
army  and  its  commander,  in  those  even 
of  the  government. 

Secrecy  and  rapidity  are  the  two  fac- 
tors of  this  product;  and  these  suppose  in 
the  government  and  the  commander-in- 
chief  great  energy,  and  on  the  part  of  the 
army  a  high  sense  of  military  duty.  With 
effeminacy  and  loose  principles  it  is  in 
vain  to  calculate  upon  a  surprise.  But 
so  general,  indeed  so  indispensable,  as  is 
this  endeavour,  and  true  as  it  is  that  it 
is  never  wholly  unproductive  of  effect, 
still  it  is  not  the  less  true  that  it  seldom 
succeeds  to  a  remarkable  degree,  and  that 
this  is  in  the  nature  of  the  thing.  We 
should  form   an  erroneous  idea    if  we 



[book  in. 

ous  the  more  the  measure  has  a  tendency 
towards  being  one  of  a  general  nature. 

We  have  seen  that  the  decision  of  a 
partial  combat  is  nothing  in  itself,  but 
that  all  partial  combats  only  find  their 
complete  solution  in  the  decision  of  the 
total  combat. 

But  even  this  decision  of  the  total 
combat  has  only  a  relative  meaning  of 
many  diflterent  gradations,  according  as 
the  force  over  which  the  victory  has 
been  gained  forms  a  more  or  less  great 
and  important  part  of  the  whole.  The 
lost  battle  of  a  corps  may  be  repaired  by 
the  victory  of  the  army.  Even  the  lost 
battle  of  an  army  may  not  only  be  coun- 
terbalanced by  file  gain  of  a  more  im- 
portant one,  but  converted  into  a  fortu- 
nate event  (the  two  days  of  Culm,  1813). 
No  one  can  doubt  this ;  but  it  is  just  as 
clear  that  the  weight  of  each  victory  (the 
Buccessful  issue  of  each  total  combat)  is 
80  much  the  more  substantial  the  more 
important  the  part  conquered,  and  that 
therefore  the  possibility  of  repairing  the 
loss  by  subsequent  events  diminishes  in 
the  same  proportion.  In  another  place 
we  shall  have  to  examine  this  more  in 
detail;  it  suffices  for  the  present  to  have 
drawn  attention  to  the  indubitable  exist- 
ence of  this  progression. 

If  we  now  add  lastly  to  these  two  con- 
siderations the  third,  which  is,  that  if  the 
persistent  use  of  forces  in  tactics  always 
shifts  the  great  result  to  the  end  of  the 
whole  act,  the  law  of  the  simultaneous 
use  of  the  forces  in  strategy,  on  the  con- 
trary, lets  the  principal  result  (which 
need  not  be  the  final  one)  take  place 
almost  always  at  the  commencement  of 
the  great  (or  whole)  act,  then  in  these 
three  results  we  have  grounds  sufficient 
to  find  strategic  reserves  always  more 
superfluous,  always  more  useless,  always 
more  dangerous  the  more  general  their 

But  the  point  where  the  idea  of  a 
strategic  reserve  begins  to  become  incon- 
sistent is  not  difficult  to  determine:  it 

lies  in  the  suprsme  deemon.  Employment 
must  be  given  to  all  the  forces  within 
the  space  of  the  supreme  decision,  and 
every  reserve  (active  force  available) 
which  is  only  intended  for  use  after  that 
decision  is  opposed  to  common  sense. 

If,  therefore,  tactics  has  in  its  reserves 
the  means  of  not  only  meeting  unforeseen 
dispositions  on  the  part  of  the  enemy, 
but  also  of  repairing  that  which  never 
can  be  foreseen,  the  result  of  the  combat, 
should  that  be  unfortunate ;  strategy  on 
the  other  hand  must,  at  least  as  far  as 
relates  to  the  capital  residt,  renounce  the 
use  of  these  means.  As  a  rule,  it  can 
only  repair  the  losses  sustained  at  one 
point  by  advantages  gained  at  another, 
in  a  few  cases  by  moving  troops  from 
one  point  to  another;  the  idea  of  pre- 
paring for  such  reverses  by  placing  forces 
in  reserve  beforehand,  can  never  be  en- 
tertained in  strategy. 

We  have  pointed  out  as  an  absurdity 
the  idea  of  a  strategic  reserve  which  is  not 
to  co-operate  in  the  capital  result,  and 
as  it  is  so  beyond  a  doubt,  we  should 
not  have  been  led  into  such  an  analysis  as 
we  have  made  in  these  two  chapters,  were 
it  not  that,  in  the  disguise  of  other  ideas,  it 
looks  like  something  better,  and  frequently 
makes  its  appearance.  One  person  sees 
in  it  the  acme  of  strategic  sagacity  and 
foresight ;  another  rejects  it,  and  with  it 
the  idea  of  any  reserve,  consequently 
even  of  a  tactical  one.  This  confusion 
of  ideas  is  transferred  to  real  life,  and  if 
we  would  see  a  memorable  instance  of  it 
we  have  only  to  call  to  mind  that  Prussia 
in  1806  left  a  reserve  of  20,000  men  can- 
toned in  the  Mark,  under  Prince  Eugene 
of  Wurtemberg,  which  could  not  possibly 
reach  the  Saale  in  time  to  be  of  any  use, 
and  that  another  force  of  25,000  men  be- 
longing to  this  power  remained  in  Eastand 
8outh  Prussia,  destined  only  to  be  put  on 
a  weu--footing  afterwards  as  a  reserve. 

After  these  examples  we  cannot  be 
accused  of  having  been  fighting  with 

CHAP.   XV]. 





The  road  of  reason,  as  we  have  said, 
seldom  allows  itself  to  be  reduced  to  a 
mathematical  line  by  principles  and 
opinions.  There  remains  always  a  cer- 
tain  margin.  But  it  is  the  same  in  all 
the  practical  arts  of  life.  For  the  lines 
of  beauty  there  are  no  abscisses  and 
ordinates;  circles  and  elHpses  are  not 
described  by  means  of  their  algebraical 
formulsB.  The  actor  in  war  therefore  soon 
finds  he  must  trust  himself  to  the  delicate 
tact  of  judgment  which,  founded  on 
natural  quickness  of  perception,  and  edu- 
cated by  reflection,  cdmost  unconsciously 
seizes  upon  the  right ;  he  soon  finds  that 
at  one  time  he  must  simplify  the  law  (by 
reducing  it)  to  some  prominent  charac- 
teristic points  which  form  his  rules ;  that 
at  another  the  adopted  method  must  be- 
come the  stafi^  on  which  he  leans. 

ks  one  of  these  simplified  characteris- 
tic points  as  a  mental  appliance,  we  look 
upon  the  principle  of  watching  continu- 

ally over  the  co-operation  of  all  forces,  or 
in  other  words,  of  keeping  constantly  in 
view  that  no  part  of  them  should  ever  be 
idle.  Whoever  has  forces  where  the 
enemy  does  not  give  them  sufficient  em- 
ployment, whoever  has  part  of  his  forces 
on  the  march — ^that  is,  aUows  them  to  lie 
dead — while  the  enemy's  are  fighting,  he 
is  a  bad  manager  of  his  forces.  In  this 
sense  there  is  a  waste  of  forces,  which  is 
even  worse  than  the  employment  to  no 
purpose.  If  there  must  be  action,  then 
the  first  point  is  that  all  parts  act,  because 
the  most  purposeless  activity  still  keeps 
employed  and  destroys  a  portion  of  the 
enemy's  force,  whilst  troops  completely 
inactive  are  for  the  moment  quite  neu- 
tralised. Unmistakably  this  idea  is 
bound  up  with  the  principles  contained 
in  the  last  three  chapters,  it  is  the  same 
truth,  but  seen  from  a  somewhat  more 
comprehensive  point  of  view  and  con- 
densed into  a  single  conception. 



The  length  to  which  the  geometrical 
element  or  form  in  the  disposition  of 
military  force  in  war  can  become  a  pre- 
dominant principle,  we  see  in  the  art 
of  fortification,  where  geometry  looks 
after  the  great  and  the  little.     Also  in 

tactics  it  plays  a  groat  part.  It  is  the 
basis  of  elementary  tactics,  or  of  the 
theory  of  moving  troops ;  but  in  field 
fortification,  as  well  as  in  the  theory  of 
positions,  and  of  their  attack,  its  angles 
and  lines  nde  like  lawgivers  who  have  to 



[book  m. 

decide  the  contest.  Many  things  here  were 
at  one  time  mis-applied,  and  others  were 
mere  Mbbles ;  still,  however  in  the  tactics 
of  the  present  day,  in  which  in  every 
combat  the  aim  is  to  surround  the  enemy, 
the  geometrical  element  has  attained 
anew  a  great  importance  in  a  very  simple, 
certainly,  but  constantly  recurring  ap- 
plication. Nevertheless,  in  tactics,  where 
all  is  more  movable,  where  the  moral 
forces,  individiial  traits,  and  chance  are 
more  influential  than  in  a  war  of  sieges, 
the  geometrical  element  can  never  attain 
to  £e  same  degree  of  supremacy  as  in 
the  latter.  But  less  still  is  its  influence 
in  strategy ;  certainly  here,  also,  form  in 
the  disposition  of  troops,  the  shape  of 
countries  and  states  is  of  great  impor- 
tance ;  but  the  geometrical  element  is  not 
decisive  here,  as  in  fortification,  and  not 
near  so  important  as  in  tactics. — ^The 
manner  in  which  this  influence  exhibits 
itself,  can  only  be  shown  by  degrees  at 
those  places  where  it  makes  its  ap- 
pearance, and  deserves  notice.  Here  we 
wish  more  to  direct  attention  to  the 
difference  which  there  is  between  tactics 
and  strategy  in  relation  to  it. 

In  tactics  time  and  space  quickly 
dwindle  to  their  absolute  minimum.  If  a 
body  of  troops  is  attacked  in  flank  and 
rear  by  the  enemy,  it  soon  gets  to  a  point 
where  retreat  no  longer  remains;  such 
a  position  is  very  close  to  an  absolute 
impossibility  of  continuing  the  fight; 
it  must  therefore  extricate  itself  from  it, 
or  avoid  getting  into  it.  This  gives 
to  all  combinations  aiming  at  this 
from  the  first  commencement  a  great  effi- 
ciency, which  chiefly  consists  in  the 
disquietude  which  it  causes  the  enemy 
as  to  consequences.  This  is  why  the 
geometrical  disposition  of  the  forces,  is 

such  an  important  factor  in  .thet  actical 

In  strategy  this  is  only  faintly  reflected, 
on  account  of  the  greater  space  and  time. 
We  do  not  fire  from  one  theatre  of  war 
upon  another;  and  often  weeks  and 
months  must  pass  before  a  strategic 
movement  designed  to  surroimd  the 
enemy  can  be  executed.  Further,  the 
distances  are  so  great  that  the  probabi- 
lity of  hitting  the  right  point  at  last,  even 
with  the  best  arrangements,  is  but  small. 

In  strategy  therefore  the  scope  for  such 
combinations,  that  is  for  those  resting  on 
the  geometrical  element,  is  much  smiuler, 
and  for  the  same  reason  the  effect  of  an 
advantage  once  actually  gained  at  any 
point  is  much  greater.  Such  advantage 
has  time  to  bring  all  its  effects  to  ma^ 
turity  before  it  is  disturbed,  or  quite 
neutralised  therein,  by  any  counteracting 
apprehensions.  We  therefore  do  not 
hesitate  to  regard  as  an  established  truths 
that  in  strategy  more  depends  on  the 
number  and  the  magnitude  of  the  vic- 
torious combats,  than  on  the  form  of  the 
great  lines  by  which  they  are  connected. 

A  view  just  the  reverse  has  been  a 
favourite  tiieme  of  modem  theory,  be- 
cause a  greater  importance  was  supposed 
to  be  ti^us  given  to  strategy,  and,  as 
the  higher  frinctions  of  the  mind  were 
seen  in  strategy,  it  was  thought  by  that 
means  to  ennoble  war,  and,  as  it  was 
said — through  a  new  substitution  of  ideas 
—  to  make  it  more  scientific.  We 
hold  it  to  be  one  of  the  princi- 
pal uses  of  a  complete  theory  openly 
to  expose  such  vagaries,  and  as  the  geo- 
metrical element  is  the  fimdamental  idea 
from  which  theory  usually  proceeds, 
therefore  we  have  expressly  brought  out 
this  point  in  strong  relief. 





If  one  looks  at  war  as  an  act  of  mutual 
destructiony  we  must  of  necessity  imagine 
both,  parties  in  a  general  way  as  making 
some  progress;  but  at  the  same  time,  as 
regards  the  existing  moment,  we  must 
almost  just  as  necessarily  suppose  the 
one  party  in  a  state  of  expectation,  and 
only  the  other  actually  advancing,  for 
circumstances  can  never  be  exactly  the 
same  on  both  sides,  or  continue  so.  In 
time  a  change  must  ensue,  from  which  it 
follows  that  the  present  moment  is  more 
favourable  to  one  side  than  the  other. 
Now  if  we  suppose  that  both  commanders 
have  a  fall  knowledge  of  this  circum- 
stance, then  the  one  has  a  motive  for 
action,  which  at  the  same  time  is  a 
motive  for  the  other  to  wait ;  therefore, 
according  to  this  it  cannot  be  for  the 
interest  of  both  at  the  same  time  to  ad- 
vance, nor  can  waiting  be  for  the  interest 
of  both  at  the  same  time.  This  oppo- 
sition of  interest  as  rdgards  the  object  is 
not  deduced  here  from  the  principle  of 
general  polarity,  and  therefore  is  not  in 
opposition  to  tiie  argument  in  the  fifth 
chapter  of  the  second  book ;  it  depends 
on  the  fact  that  here  in  reality  the  same 
thing  is  at  once  an  incentive  or  motive 
to  both  commanders,  namely  the  proba- 
bility of  improving  or  impairing  their 
position  by  future  action. 

But  even  if  we  suppose  the  possibility 
of  a  perfect  equality  of  circumstances  in 
this  respect,  or  if  we  take  into  account 
that  through  imperfect  knowledge  of 
their  mutual  position  such  an  equality 
may  appear  to  the  two  commanders  to 
subsist,  still  the  difference  of  political 
objects  does  away  with  this  possibility 
of  suspension.    One  of  the  parties  must 

of  necessity  be  assumed  politically  to 
be  the  aggressor,  because  no  war  coidd 
take  place  from  defensive  intentions  on 
both  sides.  But  the  aggressor  has  the 
positive  object,  the  defender  merely  a 
negative  one.  To  the  first  then  belongs 
the  positive  action,  for  it  is  only  by  that 
mecuis  that  he  can  attain  the  positive 
object;  therefore,  in  cases  where  both 
parties  are  in  precisely  similar  circum- 
stances, the  aggressor  is  called  upon  to 
act  by  virtue  of  his  positive  object. 

Therefore,  accordmg  to  this  manner  of 
viewing  it,  a  suspension  in  the  act  of 
warfare,  strictly  speaking,  is  in  contra- 
diction with  the  nature  of  the  thing; 
because  two  armies,  being  two  incompati- 
ble elements,  should  destroy  one  another 
imremittingly,  just  as  fire  and  water  can 
never  put  themselves  in  equilibrum,  but 
act  and  react  upon  one  another,  until  one 
quite  disappears.  What  would  be  said 
of  two  wrestlers  who  remained  clasped 
round  each  other  for  hours  without  mak- 
ing a  movement.  Action  in  war,  there- 
fore, like  that  of  a  clock  which  is  woimd 
up,  shoidd  go  on  running  down  in  regular 
motion. — ^But  wild  as  is  the  nature  of  war 
it  still  wears  the  chains  of  human  weak- 
ness, and  the  contradiction  we  see  here, 
that  man  seeks  and  creates  dangers  which 
he  fears  at  the  same  time  will  astonish  no 

If  we  cast  a  glance  at  militaiy  history 
in  general,  there  we  find  so  much  the 
opposite  of  an  incessant  advance  towards 
the  aim,  that  standing  sttU  and  doing 
nothing  is  quite  plainly  the  normal  con- 
dition  of  an  army  in  tiiie  midst  of  war, 
acting y  the  exception.  This  must  almost 
raise  a  doubt  as  to  the  correctness  of  our 



[book  m. 

conception.  But  if  military  histoxy  has 
this  effect  by  the  great  body  of  its  events, 
60  also  the  latest  series  of  them  redeems 
our  view.  The  war  of  the  French  Be- 
volution  only  shows  too  plainly  its  reality, 
and  only  proves  too  plainly  its  necessity. 
In  that  war,  and  especially  in  the  cam- 
paign of  Buonaparte,  the  conduct  of  war 
attained  to  that  unlimited  degree  of 
energy  which  we  have  represented  as  the 
natural  law  of  the  element.  This  degree 
is  therefore  possible,  and  if  it  is  possible 
then  it  is  necessary. 

How  could  any  one  in  fact  justify  in 
the  eyes  of  reason  the  expenditure  of 
forces  in  war,  if  acting  was  not  the 
the  object?  The  baker  only  heats  his  oven 
if  he  has  bread  to  put  into  it ;  the  horse 
is  only  yoked  to  the  carriage  if  we  mean 
to  drive ;  why  then  make  the  enormous 
effort  of  a  War  if  we  look  for  nothing 
else  by  it  but  like  efforts  on  the  part  of 
the  enemy  ? 

So  much  in  justification  of  the  general 
principle :  now  as  to  its  modifications,  as 
far  as  they  lie  in  the  nature  of  the  thing 
and  are  independent  of  special  cases. 

There  are  three  causes  to  be  noticed 
here,  which  appear  as  innate  coimterpoises 
and  prevent  the  over-rapid  or  uncontroll- 
able movement  of  the  wheel- work. 

The  first,  which  produces  a  constant 
tendency  to  delay,  and  is  thereby  a  re- 
tarding principle,  is  the  natural  timidity 
and  want  of  resolution  in  the  human 
mind,  a  kind  of  power  of  gravity  in  the 
moral  world,  but  which  is  produced  not 
by  attractive,  but  by  repellent  forces, 
that  is  to  say,  by  dread  of  danger  and 

In  the  burning  element  of  War,  ordi- 
nary natures  appear  to  become  heavier ; 
the  impulsion  given  must  therefore  be 
stronger  and  more  frequently  repeated 
if  the  motion  is  to  be  a  contmuous  one. 
The  mere  idea  of  the  object  for  which 
arms  have  been  taken  up  is  seldom  suffi- 
cient to  overcome  this  resistant  force,  and 
if  a  warlike  enteiprising  spirit  is  not  at 

the  head,  who  feels  himself  in  war  in  his 
natural  element,  as  much  as  a  fish  in  the 
ocean,  or  if  there  is  not  the  pressure 
from  above  of  some  great  responsibility, 
then  standing  still  will  be  the  order  of  the 
day,  and  progress  will  be  the  exception. 

The  second  cause  is  the  impeHection 
of  human  perception  and  judgment, 
which  is  greater  in  war  than  anywhere, 
because  a  person  hardly  knows  exactly 
his  own  position  from  one  moment  to 
another,  and  can  only  conjecture  on  slight 
grounds  that  of  the  enemy,  which  is 
purposely  concealed ;  this  often  gives  rise 
to  Uie  case  of  both  parties  looking  upon 
one  and  the  same  object  as  advantageous 
for  them,  while  in  reality  the  interest  of 
one  must  preponderate ;  thus  then  each 
may  think  he  acts  wisely  by  waiting 
another  moment,  as  we  have  already  said 
in  the  fifth  chapter  of  the  second  book. 

The  third  cause  which  catches  hold,  like 
a  ratchet  wheel  in  machinery,  from  time 
to  time  producing  a  complete  stand  still, 
is  the  greater  strength  of  the  defensive 
form.  A  may  feel  too  weak  to  attack  B, 
from  which  it  does  not  follow  that  B,  is 
strong  enough  for  an  attack  on  A.  The 
addition  of  strength,  which  the  defensive 
gives  is  not  merely  lost  by  assuming  the 
offensive,  but  also  passes  to  the  enemy 
just  as,  fig^atively  expressed,  the  dif- 
ference oi  a^h  and  a^h  is  equal  to  2h 
Therefore  it  may  so  happen  that  both 
parties,  at  one  and  the  same  time,  not 
only  feel  themselves  too  weak  to  attack, 
but  also  are  so  in  reality. 

Thus  even  in  the  midst  of  the  art  of 
war  itself,  anxious  sagacity  and  the  ap- 
prehension of  too  great  danger  find  van- 
tage ground,  by  means  of  which  they  can 
exert  their  power,  and  tame  the  elemen- 
tary impetuosity  of  war. 

However,  at  the  same  time  these  causes 
without  an  exaggeration  of  their  effect, 
would  hardly  explain  the  long  states  of 
inactivity  which  took  place  in  military 
operations,  in  former  times,  in  wars  under- 
taken about  interests  of  no  great  import- 



ance,  and  in  which  inactdyity  consumed 
nine-tenths  of  the  time  that  the  troops 
remained  under  arms.  This  feature  in 
these  wars,  is  to  be  traced  principally 
to  the  influence  which  the  demands  of 
the  one  party,  and  the  condition,  and 
feeling  of  the  other,  exercised  over  the 
conduct  of  the  operations,  as  has  been 
already  observed  in  the  chapter  on  the 
essence  and  object  of  war. 

These  things  may  obtain  such  a  pre- 
ponderating influence  as  to  make  of  war 
a  half-and-half  thing.  A  war  is  often 
nothing  more  than  an  armed  neutrality, 
or  a  menacing  attitude  to  support  nego- 
tiations or  an  attempt  to  gain  some  small 
advantage  by  small  exertions,  and  then 
to  wait  the  tide  of  circumstances,  or  a 
disagreeable  treaty  obligation,  which  is 
fulfilled  in  the  most  niggardly  way  pos- 

In  all  these  cases  in  which  the  impulse 
given  by  interest  is  slight,  and  the  prin- 
ciple of  hostility  feeble,  in  which  there  is 
no  desire  to  do  much,  and  also  not  much 
to  dread  from  the  enemy ;  in  short,  where 
no  powerfid  motives  press  and  drive, 
cabinets  will  not  risk  much  in  the  game ; 
hence  this  tame  mode  of  carrying  on 
war,  in  which  the  hostile  spirit  of  real 
war  is  laid  in  irons. 

The  more  war  becomes  in  this  manner 
a  half-and-half  thing,  so  much  the  more 
its  theory  becomes  destitute  of  the  neces- 
sary firm  pivots  and  buttresses  for  its 
reasoning;  the  necessary  is  constantly 
diminishing,  the  accidental  constantly  in- 

Nevertheless  in  this  kind  of  warfare, 
there  is  also  a  certain  shrewdness,  indeed, 
its  action  is  perhaps  more  diversified,  and 
more  extensive  than  in  the  other.  Hazard 
played  with  rouleaux  of  gold  seems 
changed  into  a  game  of  commerce  with 
groechen.  And  on  this  field,  where  the 
conduct  of  war  spins  out  the  time  with  a 
number  of  small  flourishes,  with  skir- 
mishes at  outposts,  half  in  earnest  half  in 
jest,  with  long  dispositions  which  end  in 

nothing,  with    positions    and    marches, 
which  afterwards  ar^  designated  as  skilful 
only  because  their  infinitesimally  small 
causes  are  lost,  ^d  common  sense  can 
make  nothing  of  them,  here  just  on  this 
very  field  many  theorists  find  the  real 
art  of  war  at  home:    in  these  feints, 
parades,    half  and    quarter    thrusts  of 
former  wars,  they  find  the  aim  of  all 
theory,  the  supremacy  of  mind  over  mat- 
ter, and  modern  wars   appear  to  them 
mere     savage      fisticufiB,    from     which 
nothing  is  to  be  learnt,  and  which  must 
be  regarded  as  mere  retrograde  steps 
towards  barbarism.     This  opinion  is  as 
frivolous  as  the  objects  to  which  it  relates. 
Where  great  forces  and  great  passions 
are  wanting,  it  is  certainly  easier  for  a 
practised  dexterity  to    show  its  game ; 
but  is  then  the  conmiand  of  great  forces, 
the  steerage  in  storm  and  tempest,  not 
in  itself  a  higher  exercise  of  the  intel- 
ligent faculties?    Is  then  that  kind  of 
conventional     sword-exercise  not    com- 
prised in    and  belonging  to  the   other 
mode  of  conducting  war?   Does  it  not 
bear  the  same  relation  to  it  as  the  motions 
upon  a  ship  to  the  motion  of  the  ship 
itself?     Truly    it   can   take  place    only 
under  the  tacit  condition  that  the  adver- 
sary does  no  better.     And  can  we  tell, 
how  long  he  may  choose  to  respect  those 
conditions  ?    Has  not  then  the  French  re- 
volution fallen  upon  us  in  the  midst  of 
the  fancied  security  of  our  old  system  of 
war,    and  driven   us  from    Chalons    to 
Moscow?    And   did  not   Frederick  the 
Gh:eat    in    like    manner    surprise     the 
Austrians  reposing  in  their  ancient  habits 
of  war,  and  make  their  monarchy  trem- 
ble?   Woe  to  the  cabinet  which,  with 
a  shilly-shally  policy,  and  a  routine-rid- 
den military  system,  meets  with  an  adver- 
sary who,  like  the  rude  element,  knows  no 
other  law  than  that  of  his  intrinsic  force. 
Every  deficiency  in  energy  and  exertion 
is  then  a  weight  in  the  scales  in  favour 
of  the  enemy ;  it  is  not  so  easy  then  to 
change  from  the  fencing  posture  into  that 



[book  in. 

of  on  athlete,  and  a  slfglit  MoW  is  often 
Biifficient  to  knock  $xP¥rtL  the  whole. 

The  resiilt  of  all  the  causes  now  ad- 
duced is,  that  the  hostile  action  of  a  cam- 
paign does  not  prograM.  by  a  continuous, 
but  by  an  intermittent  moyement,  and 
that,  therefore,  between  the  sepaitate 
bloody  acts,  there  is  a  period  of  watch- 

ing, during  which  both  parties  fall  into 
the  defensive,  and  also  that  usually  a 
higher  object  causes  the  principle  of 
aggression  to  predominate  on  one  side, 
and  thus  leaves  it  in  general  in  an 
advancing  position,  by  which  then  its 
proceedings  become  modified  in  some 



The  attention  which  must  be  paid  to 
the  character  of  war  as  it  is  now  made, 
has  a  great  influence  upon  all  plans, 
especially  on  strategic. 

Since  all  methods  formerly  usual  were 
upset  by  Buonaparte's  luck  and  boldness, 
and  first-rate  powers  almost  wiped  out 
at  a  blow ;  since  the  Spaniards  by  their 
stubborn  resistance  have  shown  what  the 
general  arming  of  a  nation  and  insurgent 
measures  on  a  great  scale  can  effect,  in 
spite  of  weakness  and  porousness  of  indi- 
vidual parts ;  since  Bussia,  by  the  cam- 
paign of  1812  has  taught  us,  first,  that 
an  empire  of  great  dimensions  is  not  to 
be  conquered  (which  might  have  been 
easily  known  before),  secondly,  that  the 
probability  of  final  success  does  not  in  all 
cases  diminish  in  the  same  measure  as 
battles,  capitals,  and  provinces  are  lost 
(which  was  formerly  an  incontrovertible 
principle  with  all  diplomatists,  and  there- 
fore made  them  always  ready  to  enter  at 
once  into  some  bad  temporary  peace), 
but  that  a  nation  is  often  strongest  in 
the  heart  of  its  coimtry,  if  the  enemy's 
ofiPensive  power  has  exhausted  itself,  and 
with  what  enormous  force  the  defensive 

then  springs  over  to  the  offensive ;  fiir- 
ther,  since  Prussia  (1813)  has  shown 
that  sudden  efforts  may  add  to  an  army 
sixfold  by  means  of  the  militia,  and  that 
this  militia  is  just  as  fit  for  service  abroad 
as  in  its  own  country; — since  all  these 
events  have  shown  what  an  enormous 
factor  the  heart  and  sentiments  of  a 
nation  may  be  in  the  product  of  its  poli- 
tical and  military  strength,  in  fine,  since 
governments  have  found  out  all  these 
additional  aids,  it  is  not  to  be  expected 
that  they  wiU  let  them  lie  idle  in  future 
wars,  whether  it  be  that  danger  threatens 
their  own  existence,  or  that  restless  am- 
bition drives  them  on. 

That  a  war  which  is  waged  with  the 
whole  weight  of  the  national  power  on 
each  side  must  be  organised  differently 
in  principle  to  those  where  everything  is 
calcidated  according  to  the  relations  of 
standing  armies  to  each  other,  it  is  easy 
to  perceive.  Standing  armies  once  re- 
sembled fleets,  the  land  force  the  sea 
force  in  their  relations  to  the  remainder 
of  the  State,  and  &om  that  the  art  of  war 
on  shore  had  in  it  something  of  naval 
tactics,  which  it  has  now  quite  lost. 

■  « 

CHAP,  xvin.] 





The  Dynamic  Law  of  War. 

Wx  have  seen  in  tlie  sixteenth  chapter  of 
this  book  (page  117),  how,  in  most  cam- 
paigns, much  more  time  used  to  be  spent 
in  standing  still  and  inaction  than  in  ac- 
tivity.  Now,  although,  as  observed  in  the 
preceding  chapter,  we  see  quite  a  different 
character  in  the  present  form  of  war,  still 
it  is  certain  that  real  action  will  always 
be  interrupted  more  or  less  by  long 
pauses;  and  this  leads  to  the  necessity 
of  our  examining  more  closely  the  nature 
of  these  two  phases  of  war. 

If  there  is  a  suspension  of  action  in 
war,  that  is,  if  neither  party  wills  some- 
thing positive,  there  is  rest,  and  conse- 
quently eqidlibrium,  but  certainly  an 
equilibrium  in  the  largest  signification, 
in  which  not  only  the  moral  and  physical 
war-forces,  but  all  relations  and  interests, 
come  into  calculation.  As  soon  as  ever  one 
of  the  two  parties  proposes  to  himself  a 
new  positive  object,  and  commences  ac- 
tive steps  towards  it,  even  if  it  is  only  by 
preparations,  and  as  soon  as  the  adver- 
sary opposes  this,  there  is  a  tension  of 
powers;  this  lasts  until  the  decision 
takes  place — that  is,  until  one  party 
either  gives  up  his  object  or  the  other 
has  conceded  it  to  him. 

This  decision — the  foundation  of  which 
lies  always  in  the  combat-combinations 
which  are  made  on  each  side — is  fol- 
lowed by  a  movement  in  one  or  other 

When  this  movement  has  exhausted 
itself,  either  in  the  difficidties  which 
had  to  be  overcome,  as  upon  its  own 
friction,  or  through  new  resistant  forces. 

then  either  a  state  of  rest  takes  place  or 
a  new  tension  with  a  decision,  and  then 
a  new  movement,  in  most  cases  in  the 
opposite  direction. 

This  speculative  distinction  between 
equilibrium,  tension,  and  motion  is  more 
essential  for  practical  action  than  may  at 
first  sight  appear. 

In  a  state  of  rest  and  of  ^uilibrium  a 
varied  kind  of  activity  may  prevail  that 
is  one  that  results  from  opportunity,  and 
does  not  aim  at  a  great  alteration.  Such 
an  activity  may  contain  important  com- 
bats^-even  pitched  battles — but  yet  it  is 
still  of  quite  a  different  nature,  and  on 
that  accoimt  generally  different  in  its 

If  a  state  of  tension  exists,  the  effects 
of  the  decision  are  always  greater,  partly 
because  a  greater  force  of  will  and  a 
greater  pressure  of  circimistances  mani- 
fest themselves  therein;  partly  because 
eveiything  has  been  prepared  and  ar- 
ranged for  a  great  movement.  The  de- 
cision in  such  cases  resembles  the  effect 
of  a  mine  well  closed  and  tamped,  whilst 
an  event  in  itself  perhaps  just  as  great, 
in  a  state  of  rest  is  more  or  less  Hke  a 
mass  of  powder  puffed  away  in  the  open 

At  the  same  time,  as  a  matter  of  course, 
the  state  of  tension  must  be  imagined  in 
different  degrees  of  intensity,  and  it  may 
therefore  approach  gradually  by  many 
steps  towards  the  state  of  rest,  so  that  at 
the  last  there  is  a  very  slight  difference 
between  them. 

Now  the  real  use  which  we  derive  from 
these  reflections  is  the  conclusion  that 
every  measure  which  is  taken  during  a 



[book  III. 

state  of  tension  is  more  important  and 
more  prolific  in  results  than  the  same 
measure  could  be  in  a  state  of  equi- 
librium, and  that  this  importance .  in- 
creases immensely  in  the  highest  degrees 
of  tension. 

The  cannonade  of  Yalmy  decided  more 
than  Xhe  battle  of  Hochkirch. 

In  a  tract  of  country  which  the  enemy 
abandons  to  us  because  he  cannot  defend 
it,  we  can  settle  ourselves  differently 
from  what  we  should  if  the  retreat  of  the 
enemy  was  only  made  with  the  view  to  a 
decision  under  more  favourable  circum- 
stances. Against  a  strategic  attack  in 
course  of  execution,  a  faulty  position, 
a  single  false  march,  may  be  decisive 
in  its  consequence ;  whilst  in  a  state  of 
equilibrium  such  errors  must  be  of  a 
very  glaring  kind,  even  to  excite  the 
activity  of  the  enemy  in  a  general  way. 

Most  bygone  wars,  as  we  have  already 
said,  consisted,  so  far  as  regards  the 
greater  part  of  the  time,  in  this  state  of 
equilibrium,  or  at  least  in  such  short  ten- 
sions with  long  intervals  between  them, 
and  weak  in  their  effects,  that  the  events 
to  which  they  gave  rise  were  seldom 
groat  successes,  often  they  were  theatri- 
cal exhibitions,  got  up  in  honour  of  a 
royal  birthday  (Hochkirch),  often  a  mere 
satisfying  of  the  honour  of  the  arms 
(Kunersdorf ),  or  the  personal  vanity  of 
the  commander  (Freiberg). 

That  a  commander  should  thoroughly 
understand  these  states,  that  he  should 
have  the  tact  to  act  in  the  spirit  of  them, 
we  hold  to  be  a  great  requisite,  and  we 
have  had  experience  in  the  campaign  of 
1806  how  far  it  is  sometimes  wanting. 
In  that  tremendous  tension,  when  every- 
thing pressed  on  towards  a  supreme  de- 
cision, and  that  alone  with  all  its  conse- 
quences should  have  occupied  the  whole 
soul  of  the  commander,  measures  were 
proposed  and  even  partly  carried  out 
(such  as  the  reoonnaisance  towards  Fran- 
oonia),  which  at  the  most  might  have 
given  a  kind  of  gentle  play  of  oscillation 
in  a  state  of  equilibriimx.  Over  these 
blundering  schemes  and  views,  absorbing 
the  activity  of  the  army,  the  really  neces- 
sary means,  which  could  alone  save,  was 

But  this  speculative  distinction  which 
we  have  made  is  also  necessary  for  our 
Airther  progress  in  the  construction  of 
our  theoiy,  because  all  that  we  have  to 
say  on  the  relation  of  attack  and  defence, 
and  on  the  completion  of  this  double- 
sided  act,  concerns  the  state  of  the  crisis 
in  which  the  forces  are  placed  during  the 
tension  and  motion,  and  because  all  the 
activity  which  can  take«place  during  the 
condition  of  equilibrium  can  only  be  re- 
garded and  treated  as  a  corollary;  for 
that  crisis  is  the  real  war  and  this  state 
of  equilibrium  only  its  reflection. 





Havino  in  the  foregoing  book  examined 
the  subjects  which  maj  be  regarded  as 
the  efficient  elements  of  war,  wo  shaU  now 
turn  our  attention  to  the  combat  as  the 
real  activity  in  warfare,  which,  by  its 
physical  and  moral  efTects,  embraces 
sometimes  more  simply,  sometimes  in  a 
more  complex  manner,  the  object  of  the 
whole  war.  In  this  activity  and  in  its 
effects  these  elements  must,  therefore, 

The  formation  of  the  combat  is  tactical 
in  its  nature ;  we  only  glance  at  it  here  in 
a  general  way  in  order  to  get  acquainted 
with  it  in  its  aspect  as  a  whole.  In  practice 
the  minor  or  more  immediate  objects  give 
every  combat  a  characteristic  form ;  these 

minor  objects  we  shall  not  learn  until 
hereafter.  But  these  peculiarities  are  in 
comparison  to  the  general  characteristics 
of  a  combat  mostly  only  insignificant,  so 
that  most  combats  are  very  like  one 
another,  and,  therefore,  in  order  to  avoid 
repeating  that  which  is  general  at  every 
stage,  we  are  compelled  to  look  into  it 
before  taking  up  the  subject  of  more 
special  application. 

In  the  first  place,  therefore,  we  shall 
give  in  the  next  chapter,  in  a  few  words, 
the  characteristics  of  the  modem  battle 
in  its  tactical  course,  because  that  lies  at 
the  foundation  of  our  conceptions  of 



AocoRDiNG  to  the  notion  we  have 
formed  of  tactics  and  strategy,  it  follows, 
as  a  matter  of  course,  that  if  the  nature 

of  the  former  is  changed,  that  change 
must  have  an  influence  on  the  latter.  If 
tactical  facts  in  one  case   are   entirely 



[book  iv. 

different  from  those  in  another,  then  the 
strategic  must  be  so  also,  if  they  are  to 
continue  consistent  and  reasonable. 
It  is  therefore  important  to  characterise 
a  general  action  in  its  modem  form 
befbre  we  advance  with  the  study  of  its 
employment  in  strategy. 

What  do  we  do  now  usually  in  a  great 
battle?  We  place  ourselves  quietly  in 
great  masses  arranged  contiguous  to  and 
behind  one  another.  We  deploy  rela- 
tively only  a  small  portion  of  the  whole, 
and  let  it  wring  itself  out  in  a  fire-combat 
which  lasts  for  several  hours,  only  inter- 
rupted now  and  again,  and  removed 
hither  and  thither  by  separate  small 
shocks  from  charges  with  the  bayonet 
and  cavalry  attacks.  When  this  line 
has  gradually  exhausted  part  of  its 
warlike  fire  in  this  manner,  and  there 
remains,  nothing  more  than  the  cin- 
ders, it  is  withdrawn  and  replaced  by 

In  this  manner  the  battle  on  a  modified 
principle  bums  slowly  away  like  wet 
powder,  and  if  the  veil  of  night  commands 
it  to  stop,  because  neither  party  can  any 
longer  see,  and  neither^  chooses  to  run 
the  risk  of  blind  chance,  then  an  account 
is  taken  by  each  side  respectively  of  the 
masses  remaining,  which  can  be  called 
still  effective,  that  is,  which  have  not  yet 
quite  collapsed  like  extinct  volcanoes ; 
account  is  taken  of  the  ground  gained  or 
lost,  and  of  how  stands  the  security  of 
the  rear ;  these  results  with  the  special 
impressions  as  to  bravery  and  oowairdice, 
ability  and  stupidity,  which  are  thought 

to  have  been  observed  in  ourselves  and 
in  the  enemy  are  collected  into  one  single 
total  impression,  out  of  which  there 
springs  the  resolution  to  quit  the  field  or 
to  renew  the  combat  on  the  morrow. 

This  description,  which  is  not  intended 
as  a  finished  picture  of  a  modem  battle, 
but  only  to  give  its  tone,  suits  for  the 
offensive  and  defensive,  and  the  special 
traits  which  are  given  by  the  object 
proposed,  the  country,  etc.,  etc.,  may  be 
int»>duced  into  it  without  materially 
altering  this  tone. 

But  modem  battles  are  not  so  by 
accident ;  they  are  so  because  the  parties 
find  themselves  nearly  on  a  level  as 
regards  military  organisation  and  the 
knowledge  of  the  art  of  war,  and  because 
the  warlike  element  inflamed  by  great 
national  interests  has  broken  through 
artificial  limits  and  now  flows  in  its 
natural  channel.  Under  these  two 
conditions,  battles  will  always  preserve 
this  character. 

This  general  idea  of  the  modem  battle 
will  be  useful  to  us  in  the  sequel  in  more 
places  than  one,  if  we  want  to  estimate 
the  value  of  the  particular  co-efficients  of 
strength,  coimtry,  etc.,  etc.  It  is  only  for 
general,  great,  and  decisive  combats,  and 
such  as  come  near  to  them  that  this  des- 
cription stands  good ;  inferior  ones  have 
changed  their  character  also  in  the  same 
direction  but  less  than  great  ones.  The 
proof  of  this  belongs  to  tactics ;  we  shall, 
however,  have  an  opportunity  hereafter 
of  making  this  subject  plainer  by  a  few 

CHAP,  ni.] 





The  Combat  is  tlie  real  warlike  activitj, 
eveiytliiiig  else  is  only  its  atixiliary ; 
let  us  therefore  take  an  attentive  look  at 
its  nature. 

Combat  is  figbt,  and  in  this  the  de- 
struction or  conquest  of  the  enemy  is  the 
object,  and  the  enemy  in  the  particular 
combat  is  the  armed  force  which  stands 
opposed  to  us. 

This  is  the  simple  idea;  we  shall  return 
to  it;  but  before  we  can  do  that  we  must 
insert  a  series  of  others. 

If  we  suppose  the  state  and  its  mili- 
taiy  force  as  a  unit,  then  the  most  natural 
idea  is  to  imagine  the  war  also  as  one 
great  combat,  and  in  the  simple  relations 
of  savage  nations  it  is  also  not  much 
otherwise.  But  our  wars  are  made  up 
of  a  number  of  great  and  small  simul- 
taneous or  consecutive  combats,  and  this 
severance  of  the  activity  into  so  many 
separate  actions  is  owing  to  the  great 
multiplicity  of  the  relations  out  of  which 
War  arises  with  us. 

In  point  of  fact,  the  ultimate  object  of 
our  wars,  the  political  one,  is  not  always 
quite  a  simple  one ;  and  even  were  it  so, 
still  the  action  is  bound  up  with  such 
a  number  of  conditions  and  consider- 
ations to  be  taken  into  accoimt,  that  the 
object  can  no  longer  be  attained  by  one 
single  great  act,  but  only  through  a  num- 
ber of  greater  or  smaller  acts  which  are 
bound  up  into  a  whole ;  each  of  these 
separate  acts  is  therefore  a  part  of 
a  whole,  has  consequently  a  special  ob- 
ject by  which  it  is  bound  to  this  whole. 

We  have  already  said  that  eveiy 
strategic  act  can  be  referred  to  the 
idea  of  a  combat,  because  it  is  an  em- 
ployment of  the  military  force,  and  at 

the  root  of  that  always  lies  the  idea  of 
combat.  We  may  therefore  reduce  every 
military  activity  in  the  province  of  strat- 
egy to  the  unit  of  single  combats,  and 
only  occupy  ourselves  with  the  object  of 
this  last ;  we  shall  only  get  acquainted 
with  these  special  objects  by  degrees  as 
we  come  to  speak  of  the  causes  which 
produce  them ;  here  we  content  ourselves 
with  saying  that  eveiy  combat,  great 
or  small,  has  its  own  peculiar  object  in 
subordination  to  the  main  object.  If 
this  is  the  case  then,  the  destruction  and 
conquest  of  the  enemy  is  only  to  be  re- 
garded as  the  means  of  gaining  this  ob- 
ject; so  it  is  unquestionably. 

But  this  result  is  true  only  in  its  form, 
and  important  only  on  account  of  the 
connection  which  the  ideas  have  be- 
tween themselves,  and  we  have  only 
sought  it  out  to  get  rid  of  it  at  once. 

What  is  overcoming  the  enemy  ? 
Always  simply  the  destruction  of  his 
military  force,  whether  it  be  by  death,  or 
woimds,  or  any  means;  whether  it  be 
completely  or  only  to  such  a  degree  that 
he  can  no  longer  continue  the  contest ; 
therefore  as  long  as  we  set  aside  all 
special  objects  of  combats,  we  may  look 
upon  the  complete  or  partial  destruction 
of  the  enemy  as  the  only  object  of  all 

Now  we  maintain  that  in  the  majority 
of  cases,  and  especially  in  great  battles, 
the  special  object  by  which  the  battle  is 
individualised  and  bound  up  with  the 
great  whole  is  only  a  weak  modification 
of  that  general  object,  or  an  ancillary 
obj  ect  bound  up  with  it,  important  enough 
to  individualise  the  battle,  but  always 
only  insignificant  in    comparison    with 



[book  IV. 

that  general  object ;  so  that  if  that  an- 
cillary object  alone  should  be  obtained, 
only  an  unimportant  part  of  the  purpose 
of  the  combat  is  fulfilled.  If  this  asser- 
tion is  correct,  then  we  see  that  the 
notion,  according  to  which  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  enemy's  force  is  only  the 
means,  and  something  else  always  the 
object,  can  only  be  true  in  form,  but  that 
it  would  lead  to  false  condusions  if  we 
did  not  recollect  that  just  this  destruc- 
tion of  the  enemy's  force  is  comprised  in 
that  object,  and  that  this  object  is  only 
a  weak  modification  of  it. 

Forgetfulness  of  this  led  to  completely 
false  views  before  the  wars  of  the  last 
period,  and  created  tendencies  as  well  as 
fragments  of  systems,  in  which  theory 
thought  it  raised  itself  so  much  the  more 
above  handicraft,  the  less  it  supposed 
itself  to  stand  in  need  of  the  use  of  the 
real  instrument,  that  is  the  destruction  of 
the  enemy's  force. 

Certainly  such  a  system  could  not  have 
arisen  unless  supported  by  other  false 
suppositions,  and  unless  in  place  of  the 
destruction  of  the  enemy,  other  things 
had  been  substituted  to  which  an  efficacy 
WM  ascribed  which  did  not  belong  to 
them.  We  shall  attack  these  falsehoods 
whenever  occasion  requires,  but  we  could 
not  treat  of  the  combat  without  claiming 
for  it  the  real  importance  and  value 
which  belong  to  it,  and  giving  warning 
against  the  errors  to  whi(£  merely  formal 
truth  might  lead. 

But  now  how  shall  we  manage  to  show 
that  in  most  cases,  and  in  those  of  most 
importance,  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
army  is  the  chief  thing  ?  How  shall  we 
manage  to  combat  that  extremely  subtle 
idea,  which  supposes  it  possible,  through 
the  use  of  a  special  artificial  form,  to  effect 
by  a  small  direct  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  forces  a  much  greater  destruction 
indirectly,  or  by  means  of  small  but  ex- 
tremely well  directed  blows  to  produce 
such  paralysation  of  the  enemy's  forces, 
such  a  command  over  the  enemy's  wiU, 

thatthismode  of  proceeding  is  to  be  viewed 
as  a  great  shortening  of  the  road  ?  Un- 
doubtedly a  battle  at  one  point  is  of  more 
value  than  at  another.  Undoubtedly 
there  is  a  scientific  arrangement  of  battles 
amongst  themselves,  even  in  strategy, 
which  is  in  fact  nothing  but  that  art ; 
to  deny  that  is  not  our  intention,  but  we 
assert  that  the  direct  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  forces  is  everywhere  predomi- 
nating ;  we  contend  here  for  the  over- 
ruling importance  of  this  destructive 
principle  and  nothing  else. 

We  must,  however,  call  to  mind  that 
we  are  now  engaged  with  strategy,  not 
with  tactics,  therefore  we  do  not  speak 
of  the  means  which  the  former  may  have 
of  destroying  at  a  small  expense  a  large 
body  of  the  enemy's  forces,  but  that 
under  direct  destruction  we  imderstand 
the  tactical  results,  and  that,  therefore, 
our  assertion  is  that  only  great  tactical 
results  can  lead  to  great  strategical  ones, 
or,  as  we  have  already  once  before 
more  distinctly  expressed  it,  the  tcu^tical 
successes  are  of  paramount  importance 
in  the  conduct  of  war. 

The  proof  of  this  assertion  seems  to  us 
simple  enough,  it  lies  in  the  time  which 
every  complicated  (artificial)  combination 
requires.  The'question  whether  a  simple 
attack,  or  one  more  carefully  prepared, 
more  artificial,  will  producegreater  efiTects, 
may  undoubtedly  be  decided  ia  favour  of 
the  latter  as  long  as  the  enemy  is  assumed 
to  be  an  object  quite  passive.  But  every 
carefully  combined  attack  requires  more 
time,  and  this  time  must  be  allowed 
without  a  counterstroke  on  one  of  the 
parts  upsetting  the  whole  in  the  prepara- 
tions tor  its  execution.  Now,  if  the 
enemy  should  decide  upon  some  simpler 
attack,  which  can  be  executed  in  a  shorter 
time,  then  he  gains  the  initiative,  and  des- 
troys the  efPect  of  the  great  plan.  There- 
fore, along  with  the  expediency  of  a  com- 
plicated attack  we  must  consider  all  the 
dangers  which  we  run  during  its  pre- 
paration, and  we  should  only  adopt  it  if 

CHAP.  IV.] 



there  is  no  reason  to  fear  that  the  enemy 
will  disconcert  onr  scheme  by  a  shorter 
one.  Whenever  this  is  the  case  we  must 
ourselves  choose  the  shorter,  and  lower 
our  views  in  this  sense  as  far  as  the 
character,  the  relations  of  the  enemy, 
and  other  circumstances  may  render 
necessary.  If  we  quit  the  weai  impres- 
sions of  abstract  ideas  and  descend  to  the 
region  of  practical  life,  then  it  is  evident 
that  a  bold,  courageous,  resolute  enemy 
wUl  not  let  us  have  time  for  wide-reaching 
skilful  combinations,  and  it  is  just  against 
such  a  one  we  should  require  skill  the 
most.  By  this  it  appears  to  us  that  the 
advantage  of  simple  and  direct  results 
over  those  that  are  complicated  is  con- 
clusively shown. 

Our  opinion  is  not  on  that  accotmt  that 
the  simple  blow  is  the  best,  but  that  we 
must  not  lift  the  arm  too  far  for  the  room 
given  to  strike,  and  that  this  condition 
will  always  lead  more  to  direct  conflict  the 
more  warlike  our  opponent  is.  There- 
fore, far  from  making  it  our  aim  to  gain 
upon  the  enemy  by  complicated  plans, 
we  must  rather  seek  always  to  be  before- 
hand with  him  just  in  the  opposite 

If  we  seek  for  the  lowest  foundation 
stones  of  these  converse  propositions  we 
And  that  it  is  in  the  one,  ability,  in  the 
other,  courf^e.  Now,  there  is  something 
veiy    attractive  in  the  notion    that    a 

moderate  degree  of  courage  joined  to 
great  ability  will  produce  greater  effects 
tiian  moderate  ability  with  great  courage. 
But  unless  we  suppose  these  elements  in 
a  disproportionate  relation,  not  logical, 
we  have  no  right  to  assign  to  ability  this 
advantage  over  courage  in  a  field  which 
is  called  danger,  and  which  must  be 
regarded  as  the  true  domain  of  courage. 

After  this  abstract  view  we  shall  only 
add  that  experience,  very  far  from  leading 
to  a  different  conclusion,  is  rather  the 
sole  cause  which  has  impelled  us  in  this 
direction,  and  given  rise  to  such  reflec- 

Whoever  reads  history  with  a  mind  free 
from  prejudice  cannot  fail  to  arrive  at  a 
conviction  that  of  all  military  virtues 
energy  in  the  conduct  of  operations  has 
always  contributed  the  most  to  glory  and 
success  of  arms. 

How  we  make  good  our  principle  of 
regarding  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
force  as  the  principal  object,  not  only  in 
the  war  as  a  whole  but  also  in  each 
separate  combat,  and  how  that  principle 
suits  all  the  forms  and  conditions 
necessarily  demanded  by  the  relations 
out  of  which  war  springs,  the  sequel  will 
show.  For  the  present  all  that  we  desired 
was  to  uphold  its  general  importance, 
and  with  this  result  we  return  again  to 
the  combat. 



In  the  last  chapter  we  stopped  short  at 
the  destruction  of  the  enemy  being  the 
object  of  the  combat,  and  we  have  sought 
to  show  by  a  special  consideration   of 

the  point  that  this  is  true  in  the  majority 
of  cases,  and  in  respect  to  the  most 
important  battles,  because  the  destruction 
of  the  enemy's  army  is  always  the  pre- 



[book  17. 

ponderating  object  in  war.  9he  other 
objects  which  may  be  mixed  nip  with  this 
destructioii  of  the  enemy's  force,  and  may 
have  more  or  less  influence,  we  shaU 
describe  generally  in  the  next  chapter, 
and  become  better  acquainted  with  by 
degrees  afterwards ;  here  we  divest  the 
combat  of  them  entirely,  and  look  upon 
the  destruction  of  the  enemy  as  the 
complete  and  sufficient  object  of  any 

What  are  we  now  to  imderstand  by 
destruction  of  the  enemy's  army  ?  A  dimi- 
nution of  it  relatively  greater  than  that 
on  our  own  side.  If  we  have  a  great 
superiority  in  numbers  over  the  enemy, 
then  naturally  the  same  absolute 
amount  of  loss  on  both  sides  is  for 
us  a  smaller  one  than  for  him,  and 
consequently  may  be  regarded  in  itself  as 
an  advantage.  As  we  are  here  consider- 
ing the  combat  as  divested  of  all  (other) 
objects,  therefore  we  must  also  exclude 
from  our  consideration  that  one  where 
the  combat  is  used  only  indirectly  for  a 
greater  destruction  of  the  enemy's  force ; 
consequentiy  also  only  that  direct  gain 
which  has  been  made  in  the  mutual  pro- 
cess of  destruction  is  to  be  regarded  as  the 
object,  for  this  is  an  absolute  gain,  which 
runs  through  the  whole  campaign,  and 
at  the  end  of  it  will  always  appear  as  pure 
gain.  But  every  other  kind  of  victory 
over  our  opponent  will  either  have  its 
motive  in  other  objects,  which  we  have 
completely  excluded  here,  or  it  will  only 
yield  a  temporary  relative  advantage.  An 
example  wHl  mi^e  this  plain. 

If  by  a  skilful  disposition  we  have 
reduced  our  opponent  to  such  dilemma, 
that  he  cannot  continue  the  combat  with- 
out danger,  and  after  some  resistance  he 
retires,  then  we  may  say,  that  we  have 
conquered  him  at  that  point;  but  if  in 
this  victory  we  have  expended  just  as 
many  forces  as  the  enemy,  then  in 
closing  the  account  of  the  campaign,  there 
is  no  gain  remaining  from  this  victory, 
if  such  a  result  can  be  called  a  victory. 

Therefore  the  overcoming  the  enemy,  that 
is,  placing  him  in  such  a  position  that  he 
must  give  up  the  fight,  counts  for  nothing 
in  itself,  and  for  that  reason  cannot  come 
under  the  definition  of  object,  and  so 
there  remains  then,  as  we  have  said, 
nothing  over  except  the  direct  g^n 
which  we  have  made  in  the  process  of 
destruction ;  but  to  this  belong  not  only 
the  losses  which  have  taken  place  in  the 
course  of  the  combat,  but  also  those 
which,  after  the  withdrawal  of  the  con- 
quered part,  take  place  as  direct  con- 
sequences of  the  same. 

Now  it  is  known  by  experience,  that 
the  losses  in  physical  forces  in  the  course 
of  a  battie  seldom  present  a  g^at  dif- 
ference between  victor  and  vanquished 
respectively,  often  none  at  all,  sometimes 
even  one  bearing  an  inverse  relation, 
and  that  the  most  decisive  losses  on  the 
side  of  the  vanquished  only  .conmience 
with  the  retreat,  that  is,  those  which  the 
conqueror  does  not  share  with  him.  The 
weak  remains  of  battalions  already  in 
disorder  are  cut  down  by  cavalry,  ex- 
hausted men  strew  the  ground,  disabled 
guns  and  broken  caissons  are  abandoned, 
others  in  the  bad  state  of  the  roads  can- 
not be  removed  quick  enough,  and  are 
captured  by  the  enemy's  troops  during 
the  night,  numbers  lose  their  way,  and 
fall  defenceless  into  the  enemy's  hands, 
and  thus  the  victory  mostly  gains  bodily 
substance  after  it  is  already  decided. 
Here  would  be  a  paradox,  if  it  did 
not  solve  itself  in  the  following  manner. 

The  loss  in  physical  force  is  not  the 
only  one  which  the  two  sides  sufiTer  in 
the  course  of  the  combat ;  the  moral 
forces  also  are  shaken,  broken,  and  go  to 
ruin.*  It  is  not  only  the  loss  in  men, 
horses  and  guns,  but  in  order,  courage, 
confidence,  cohesion  and  plan,  which 
come  into  consideration  when  it  is  a 
question  whether  the  fight  can  be  still 
continued  or  not.  It  is  principally  the 
moral  forces  which  decide  here,  and  it 
was  these  alone  in  all  cases  in  which 

cnAP.  IV.] 



the  conqueror  has  lost  just  as  much  as 
the  conquered. 

The  comparatiYe  relation  of  the  phy- 
sical losses  is  difficult  to  estimate  in  a 
hattle,  but  not  so  the  relation  of  the 
moral.  Two  things  principally  make  it 
known*  The  one  is  the  loss  of  the  ground 
on  which  the  fight  has  taken  place,  the 
other  the  superiority  of  the  enemy's  re- 
serve. The  more  our  reserves  have 
diminished  as  compared  with  those  of 
the  enemy,  the  more  force  we  have  used 
to  maintain  the  equilibrium ;  in  this  at 
once  an  evident  proof  of  the  moral 
superiority  of  the  enemy  is  given  which 
seldom  fails  to  stir  up  in  the  soul  of  the 
commander  a  certain  bitterness  of  feeling, 
and  a  sort  of  contempt  for  his  own 
troops.  But  the  principal  thing  is,  that 
men  who  have  been  engaged  for  a  long 
continuance  of  time  are  more  or  less  like 
dead  cinders;  their  ammunition  is  con- 
sumed ;  they  have  melted  away  to  a  cer- 
tain extent;  physical  and  moral  energies 
are  exhausted,  perhaps  their  courage  bro- 
ken as  welL  Such  a  force,  irrespective  of 
the  diminution  in  its  number,  if  viewed  as 
an  organic  whole,  is  veiy  different  from 
what  it  was  before  the  combat ;  and  thus 
it  is  that  the  loss  of  moral  force  may  be 
measured  by  the  reserves  that  have 
been  used  as  if  it  were  on  a  foot  rule. 

Lost  grotmd  and  want  of  fresh  reserves, 
are,  therefore,  usually  the  principal  causes 
which  determine  a  retreat;  but  at  the 
same  time  we  by  no  means  exclude  or 
desire  to  throw  in  the  shade  other  rea- 
sons, which  may  lie  in  the  interdepen- 
dence of  parts  of  the  army,  in  the  gene- 
ral plan,  etc. 

Every  combat  is  therefore  the  bloody 
and  destructive  measuring  of  the  strength 
of  forces,  physical  and  moral;  whoever 
at  the  close  has  the  greatest  amount  of 
both  left  is  the  conqueror. 

In  the  combat  the  loss  of  moral  force 
has  been  the  chief  cause  of  the  decision ; 
after  that  was  given,  this  loss  continued 
to  increase  until  it  reached  its  culminating 

point  at  the  close  of  the  whole  act ;  it  is 
therefore  also  the  means  of  making  that 
gain  in  the  destruction  of  the-  enemy's 
force  which  was  the  real  object  of  the 
combat.  The  loss  of  order  and  unity 
often  makes  the  resistance  of  individual 
parts  very  injurious ;  the  spirit  of  the 
whole  is  broken;  the  original  excitement 
about  losing  or  winning,  through  which 
danger  was  forgotten,  is  spent,  and  to  the 
majority  danger  now  appears  no  longer 
an  appeal  to  their  courage,  but  rathei 
the  endurance  of  a  cruel  punishment. 
Thus  the  instrument  in  the  first  moment 
of  the  enemy's  victory  is  weakened  and 
blunted,  and  therefore  no  longer  fit  to 
repay  danger  by  danger. 

This  period  the  conqueror  must  use  in 
order  to  make  the  real  gain  in  the  de- 
struction of  physical  forces ;  only  so  much 
of  these  as  he  attains  remains  secure  to 
him ;  the  moral  forces  of  the  enemy  will 
recover  themselves  by  degrees,  order  will 
be  restored,  courage  will  revive,  and  in 
the  majority  of  cases  there  remains  only 
a  small  part  of  the  superiority  obtained, 
often  none  at  all,  and  in  some  cases, 
although  rarely,  the  spirit  of  revenge  and 
intensified  hostility  may  bring  about  an 
opposite  result.  On  the  other  hand, 
whatever  is  gained  in  killed,  wounded, 
and  prisoners,  and  guns  captured,  can 
never  disappear  from  the  account. 

The  losses  in  a  battle  consist  more  in 
killed  and  wounded;  those  after  the 
battle,  more  in  artillery  taken  and 
prisoners.  The  first  the  conqueror  shares 
with  the  conquered,  more  or  less,  but  the 
second  not;  and  for  that  reason  they 
usually  only  take  place  on  one  side  of  the 
conflict,  at  least,  they  are  considerably  in 
excess  on  one  side. 

ArtUlery  and  prisoners  are  therefore  at 
all  times  regarded  as  the  true  trophies  of 
victory,  as  well  as  its  measure,  because 
through  these  things  its  extent  is  declared 
beyond  a  doubt.  Even  the  degree  of  moral 
superiority  may  be  better  judged  of  by 
them  than  by  any  other  relation,  especially 



[book  IV. 

if  the  number  of  killed  and  wounded  is 
compared  therewith;  and  here  arisen  a 
new  power  increasing  the  moral  effects. 

We  have  said  that  the  moral  forces, 
beaten  to  the  ground  in  the  battle  and 
in  the  immediately  succeeding  move- 
ments,  recover  themselves  gradually,  and 
often  bear  no  traces  of  injury;  this  is 
the  case  with  small  divisions  of  the  whole, 
less  frequently  with  large  divisions;  it 
may,  however,  also  be  the  case  with  the 
main  army,  but  seldom  or  never  in  the 
state  or  government  to  which  the  army 
belongs.  These  estimate  the  situation 
more  impartially  and  from  a  more  ele- 
vated point  of  view,  and  recognise  in  the 
number  of  trophies  taken  by  the  enemy, 
and  their  relation  to  the  number  of  killed 
and  wounded,  only  too  easily  and  well 
the  measure  of  their  own  weakness  and 

In  point  of  fact,  the  lost  balance  of 
moral  power  must  not  be  treated  lightly 
because  it  has  no  absolute  value,  and  be- 
cause it  does  not  of  necessity  appear  in 
all  cases  in  the  amount  of  the  results  at 
the  final  close ;  it  may  become  of  such 
excessive  weight  as  to  bring  down  every- 
thing with  an  irresistible  force.  On  that 
account  it  may  often  become  a  great  aim 
of  the  operations  of  which  we  shall  speak 
elsewhere.  Here  we  have  still  to  examine 
some  of  its  fundamental  relations. 

The  moral  effect  of  a  victory  increases, 
not  merely  in  proportion  to  the  extent  of 
the  forces  engaged,  but  in  a  progressive 
ratio — that  is  to  say,  not  only  in  extent, 
but  also  in  its  intensity.  In  a  beaten 
division  order  is  easily  restored.  As  a 
single  frozen  limb  is  easily  revived  by 
the  rest  of  the  body,  so  the  courage  of  a 
defeated  division  is  easily  raised  again 
by  the  courage  of  the  rest  of  the  army  as 
soon  as  it  rejoins  it.  If,  therefore,  the 
effects  of  a  small  victory  are  not  com- 
pletely done  away  with,  still  they  are 
partly  lost  to  the  enemy.  This  is  not  the 
case  if  the  army  itself  sustains  a  groat 
defeat ;  then  one  with  the  other  fall  to- 

gether.   A  great  fire  attains  quite  a  dif- 
ferent heat  from  several  small  ones. 

Another  relation  which  determines  the 
moral  value  of  a  victory  is  the  numerical 
relation  of  the  forces  which  have  been  in 
conflict  with  each  other.  To  beat  many 
with  a  few  is  not  only  a  double  success,  but 
shows  also  a  greater,  especially  a  more 
general  superiority,  which  the  conquered 
must  always  be  fearful  of  encountering 
again.  At  the  same  time  this  influence 
is  in  reality  hardly  observable  in  such  a 
case.  In  the  moment  of  real  action,  the 
notions  of  the  actual  strength  of  the 
enemy  are  generally  so  uncertain,  the 
estimate  of  our  own  commonly  so  incor- 
rect, that  the  party  superior  in  numbers 
either  does  not  admit  the  disproportion, 
or  is  very  far  from  admitting  the  full 
truth,  owing  to  which,  he  evades  almost 
entirely  the  moral  disadvantages  which 
would  spring  from  it.  It  is  only  here- 
after in  history  that  the  truth,  long 
suppressed  through  ignorance,  vanity, 
or  a  wise  discretion,  makes  its  appear- 
ance, and  then  it  certainly  casts  a  lustre 
on  the  army  and  its  leader,  but  it 
can  then  do  nothing  more  by  its  moral 
influence  for  events  long  past. 

If  prisoners  and  captured  guns  aro 
those  things  by  which  the  victory  prin- 
cipally gains  substance,  its  true  crystalli- 
sations, then  the  plan  of  the  battle  should 
have  those  things  specially  in  view ; 
the  destruction  of  the  enemy  by  death 
and  wounds  appears  here  as  a  pure 

How  far  this  may  influence  the  dis- 
positions in  the  battle  is  not  an  affair  of 
strategy,  but  the  appointment  itself  of 
the  battJe  is  already  in  connection  with 
it,  namely,  by  the  measures  for  security 
of  our  own  rear,  and  threatening  the 
enemy's.  On  this  point,  the  number  of 
prisoners  and  captured  guns  depends 
very  much,  and  it  is  a  point  which,  in 
many  cases,  tactics  alone  cannot  satisfy, 
particularly  if  the  strategic  relations  are 
too  much  in  opposition  to  it 

CHAP.  IV.] 



The  danger  of  having  to  fight  on  two 
sidee,  and  the  still  more  dangerous  posi- 
tion of  having  no  line  of  retreat  left  open, 
paralyse  the  movements  and  the  power 
of  resistance,  and  influence  the  alterna- 
tive of  victory  or  defeat ;  further,  in  case 
of  defeat,  they  increase  the  loss,  often 
raising  it  to  its  extreme  point,  that  is,  to 
destruction.  Therefore,  the  rear  being 
endangered  makes  defeat  more  probable, 
and,  at  the  same  time,  more  decisive. 

From  this  arises,  in  the  whole  conduct 
of  the  war,  and  especially  in  great  and 
small  combats,  a  perfect  instinct,  which  is 
the  security  of  our  own  line  of  retreat  and 
the  seizure  of  the  enemy's;  this  follows 
from  the  conception  of  victory,  which,  as 
we  have  seen,  is  something  beyond  mere 

In  this  effort  we  see,  therefore,  the 
first  immediate  purpose  in  the  combat, 
and  one  which  is  quite  universal.  No 
combat  is  imaginable  in  which  this  effort, 
either  in  its  double  or  single  form,  is  not 
to  go  hand  in  hand  with  the  plain  and 
simple  stroke  of  force.  Even  the  smallest 
troop  will  not  throw  itself  upon  its  enemy 
without  thinking  of  its  line  of  retreat, 
and,  in  most  cases,  it  wiU  have  an  eye 
upon   that  of  the  enemy. 

We  should  have  to  digress  to  show 
how  often  this  instinct  is  prevented  from 
going  the  direct  road,  how  often  it  must 
yield  in  the  difficulties  arising  from 
more  important  considerations :  we  shall, 
therefore,  rest  contented  with  affirming  it 
to  be  a  general  natural  law  of  the  combat. 

It  is,  therefore,  active ;  presses  every- 
where with  its  natural  weight,  and  so 
becomes  the  pivot  on  which  almost  all 
tactical  and  strategic  manoeuvres  turn. 

If  we  now  take  a  look  at  the  concep- 
tion of  victory  as  a  whole,  we  find  in  it 
three  elements  :— 

1.  The  greater  loss  of  the  enemy  in 
physical  power. 

2.  In  moral  power. 

3.  His  open  avowal  of  this  by  the  re- 
linquishment of  his  intentions. 

The  returns  made  up  on  each  side  of 
losses  in  killed  and  wounded,  are  never 
exact,  seldom  truthful,  and  in  most  cases, 
full  of  intentional  misrepresentations. 
Even  the  statement  of  the  number  of  tro- 
phies is  seldom  to  be  quite  depended  on ; 
consequently,  when  it  is  not  considerable 
it  may  also  cast  a  doubt  even  on  the 
reality  of  the  victory.  Of  the  loss  in 
moral  forces  there  is  no  reliable  measuroi 
except  in  the  trophies:  therefore,  in 
many  cases,  the  giving  up  the  contest 
is  the  only  real  evidence  of  the  victory. 
It  is,  therefore,  to  be  regarded  as  a 
confession  of  inferiority — as  the  lowering 
of  the  flag,  by  which,  in  this  particular 
instance,  right  and  superiority  are  con- 
ceded to  the  enemy,  and  this  degree  of 
humiliation  and  disgrace,  which,  how- 
ever, must  be  distinguished  from  all 
the  other  moral  consequences  of  the 
loss  of  equilibrium,  is  an  essential 
part  of  the  victory.  It  is  this  part 
alone  which  acts  upon  the  public  opinion 
outside  the  army,  upon  the  people  and 
the  government  in  both  oelligerent 
states,  and  upon  all  others  in  any  way 

But  now  the  giving  up  the  general 
object  is  not  quite  identical  with  the 
quitting  the  field  of  battle,  even  when  the 
battle  has  been  very  obstinate  and  long 
kept  up ;  no  one  says  of  advanced  posts, 
when  they  retire  after  an  obstinate  combat, 
that  they  have  g^ven  up  their  object;  even 
in  combats  aimed  at  the  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  army,  the  retreat  from  the  battle- 
field is  not  always  to  be  regarded  as  a 
relinquishment  of  this  aim,  as  fbr  instance, 
in  retreats  planned  beforehand,  in  which 
the  ground  is  disputed  foot  by  foot ;  all 
this  belongs  to  that  part  of  our  subject 
where  we  shall  speak  of  the  separate 
object  of  the  combat;  here  we  only  wish 
to  draw  attention  to  the  fact  that  in  most 
cases  the  giving  up  the  object  is  very 
difficult  to  distinguish  from  the  retire- 
ment from  the  battle-field,  and  that  the 
impression  produced  by  the  latter,  both 



[book  it. 

in  and  out  of  the  anny,  is  not  to  be 
treated  lightly. 

For  genereds  and  armies  whose  repu- 
tation is  not  madO;  this  is  in  itself  one  of 
the  difficulties  in  many  operations,  justi- 
fied by  circumstances  when  a  succession 
of  combats,  each  ending  in  retreat,  may 
appear  as  a  succession  of  defeats,  without 
being  so  really,  and  when  that  appear- 
ance may  exercise  a  very  depressing 
influence.  It  is  impossible  for  the  re- 
treating general  by  making  known  his 
real  intentions  to  prevent  the  moral 
efifect  everywhere,  for  to  do  that  with 
effect  he  must  disclose  his  plans  com- 
pletely, which  of  course  would  run  counter 
to  his  principal  interests  to  too  great  a 

In  order  to  draw  attention  to  the 
special  importance  of  this  conception  of 
victoiy,  we  shall  only  refer  to  the  battle 
of  Boor,  the  trophies  from  which  were  not 
important  (a  few  thousand  prisoners  and 
twenty  guns),  and  where  Frederick  pro- 
claimed his  victory  by  remaining  for  five 
days  after  on  the  field  of  battle,  although 
his  retreat  into  Silesia  had  been  pre- 
viously determined  on,  and  was  a  measure 
natural  to  his  whole  situation.  According 
to  his  own  account,  he  thought  he 
would  hasten  a  peace  by  the  moral  effect 
of  his  victory.    Now  although  a  couple 

of  other  successes  were  likewise  required, 
namely  the  battle  at  Katholisch  Hen- 
nersdorf,  in  Lusatia,  and  the  battle  of 
Kesseldorf,  before  this  peace  took  place, 
still  we  cannot  say  that  the  moral  effect 
of  the  battle  of  Soor  was  nil. 

If  it  is  chiefly  the  moral  force  which 
is  shaken  by  the  victory,  and  if  the  num- 
ber of  trophies  by  that  means  mounts  up 
to  an  unusual  height,  then  the  lost  com- 
bat becomes  a  rout,  which  therefore  is 
not  the  exact  opposite  of  every  victory. 
As  the  moral  force  of  the  conquered  is 
shaken  to  a  much  greater  degree  in 
such  a  defeat,  there  often  ensues  a  com- 
plete incapability  of  further  resistance, 
and  the  whole  action  consists  of  giving 
way,  that  is  of  flight. 

Jena  and  Belle  Alliance  were  routs, 
but  not  so  Borodino. 

Although  without  pedantry  we  can 
here  give  no  single  line  of  separation, 
because  the  difference  between  the  things 
is  one  of  degrees,  yet  still  the  retention 
of  the  conception  is  essential  as  a  central 
point  to  give  clearness  to  our  theoretical 
ideas,  and  it  is  a  want  in  our  terminology 
that  for  a  victory  over  the  enemy  tanta- 
mount to  a  rout,  and  a  conquest  of  the 
enemy  only  tantamount  to  a  simple 
victory,  there  is  only  one  and  the  same 
word  to  use. 



Having  in  the  preceding  chapter  ex- 
amined the  combat  in  its  absolute  form, 
as  the  miniature  picture  of  the  whole 
war,  as  it  were,  we  now  turn  to  the  re- 
lations which  as  a  part  of  a  great  whole 
it  bears  to  the  other  parts.    First  we  en- 

quire what  is  more  precisely  the  significa- 
tion of  a  combat. 

As  war  is  nothing  else  but  a  mutual 
process  of  destruction,  then  the  most 
natural  answer  in  conception,  and  perhaps 
also  in  reality,    appears  to  be  that  all 

CHAP,  v.] 



the  powers  of  each  party  unite  in  one  great 
vohime,  and  all  results  in  one  great  shock 
of  these  masses.  There  is  certainly  much 
truth  in  this  idea,  and  it  seems  upon  the 
whole  to  he  very  advisable  that  we  should 
adhere  to  it,  and  that  we  should  on  that 
account  look  upon  small  combats  at  first 
only  as  necessary  loss,  like  the  shavings 
from  a  carpenter's  plane.  Still  however, 
the  thing  is  never  to  be  settled  so 

That  a  multiplication  of  combats  should 
arise  from  a  fractioning  of  forces  is  a 
matter  of  course,  and  the  more  immedi- 
ate objects  of  separate  combats  will 
therefore  come  before  us  in  the  subject 
of  a  fractioning  of  forces ;  but  these  ob- 
jects, and  together  with  them,  the  whole 
mass  of  combats  may  in  a  general  way 
be  brought  under  certain  classes,  and 
the  knowledge  of  these  classes  will  con- 
tribute to  make  our  observations  more 

Destruction  of  the  enemy's  military 
forces  is  in  reality  the  object  of  all  com- 
bats ;  but  other  objects  maybe  joined  to 
^at,  and  these  other  objects  may  be  at 
the  same  time  predominant;  we  must 
therefore  draw  a  distinction  between 
those  in  which  the  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  forces  is  the  principal  object, 
and  those  in  which  it  is  more  the  means. 
Besides  the  destruction  of  the.  enemy's 
force,  the  possession  of  a  place  or  the 
posession  of  some  object  may  be  the 
general  motive  for  a  combat,  and  it  may 
be  either  one  of  these  alone  or  several 
together,  in  which  case  still  usually  one 
is  the  principal  motive.  Now  the  two 
principal  forms  of  War,  the  offensive 
and  defensive,  of  which  we  shall  shortly 
speak,  do  not  modify  the  first  of  these 
motives,  but  they  certainly  do  modify  the 
other  two,  and  therefore  if  we  arrange 
them  in  a  scheme  they  would  appear 
thus : — 

Offensive.  Defensive. 

1.  Destruction     of     1.  Destruction     of 
enemy's  force.  enemy's  force. 

Offensive.  Defensive. 

2.  Conquest    of   a    2.  Defence    of     a 
place.  place. 

3.  Conquest      of    3.  Defence  of  some 
some  object.  object. 

These  motives,  however,  do  not  seem 
to  embrace  completely  the  whole  of  the 
subject,  if  we  recollect  that  there  are 
reconnaissances  and  demonstrations,  in 
which  plainly  none  of  these  three  points 
is  the  object  of  the  combat.  In  reality 
we  must,  therefore,  on  this  account  be 
allowed  a  fourth  class.  Strictly  speaking, 
in  reconnaissances  in  which  we  wish  the 
enemy  to  show  himself,  in  alarms  by 
which  we  wish  to  wear  him  out,  in 
demonstrations  by  which  we  wish  to 
'  prevent  his  leaving  some  point  or  to  draw 
him  off  to  another,  the  objects  are  all 
such  as  can  only  be  attained  indirectly 
and  under  the  pretext  of  one  of  the  three 
objects  specified  in  the  tables  usually  of  the 
second ;  for  the  enemy  whose  aim  is  to 
reconnoitre  must  draw  up  his  force  as  if 
he  really  intended  to  attack  and  defeat 
us,  or  drive  us  off,  etc.,  etc.  But  this 
pretended  object  is  not  the  real  one,  and 
our  present  question  is  only  as  to  the 
latter ;  therefore,  we  must  to  the  above 
three  objects  of  the  offensive  further  add 
a  fourth,  which  is  to  lead  the  enemy  to 
make  a  false  move,  or,  in  other  words,  en- 
gage him  in  a  sham  fight.  That  offensive 
means  only  are  conceivable  in  connection 
with  this  object,  lies  in  the  nature  of  the 

On  the  other  hand  we  must  observe 
that  the  defence  of  a  place  may  be  of  two 
kinds,  either  absolute,  if  as  a  general 
question  the  point  is  not  to  be  given  up,  or 
relative  if  it  is  .only  required  for  a  certain 
time.  The  latter  happens  perpetually  in 
the  combats  of  advanced  posts  and  rear 

That  the  nature  of  these  different 
intentions  of  a  combat  must  have  an 
essential  influence  on  the  dispositions 
which  are  its  preliminaries,  is  a  thing 
clear  in  itself.     We  act  differently  if  ouc 



[book  IV. 

object  is  merely  to  drive  an  enemy's  post 
out  of  its  place  from  what  we  should  if 
our  object  was  to  beat  him  completely ; 
differently,  if  we  mean  to  defend  a  place 
to  the  last  extremity  from  what  we  should 
do  if  our  design  is  only  to  detain  the 
enemy  for  a  certain  time.  In  the  first 
case  we  trouble  ourselves  little  about  the 
line  of  retreat,  in  the  latter  it  is  the 
principal  point,  &c. 

But  these  reflections  belong  properly 
to  tactics,  and  are  only  introduced  here 
by  way  of  example  for  the  sake  of 
greater  clearness.  What  strategy  has 
to  say  on  the  different  objects  of  the 
combat    will    appear    in    the    chapters 

which  touch  upon  these  objects.  Here 
we  have  only  a  few  general  observa- 
tions to  make,  first,  that  the  importance 
of  the  object  decreases  nearly  in  the 
order  as  they  stand  above,  there- 
fore then,  that  the  first  of  these  objects 
must  always  predominate  in  the  great 
battle ;  lastly,  that  the  two  last  in  a 
defensive  battle  are  in  reality  such  as 
yield  no  fruit,  they  are,  that  is  to  say, 
purely  negative,  and  can,  therefore,  only 
be  serviceable,  indirectly,  by  facilitating 
something  else  which  is  positive.  It 
f«,  therefore^  a  bad  sign  of  the  strategic 
situation  if  battles  of  this  kind  become  too 



If  we  consider  the  combat  no  longer 
in  itseK  but  in  relation  to  the  other  forces 
of  war,  then  its  duration  acquires  a  special 

This  duration  is  to  be  regarded  to  a 
certain  extent  as  a  second  subordinate 
success.  For  the  conqueror  the  combat 
can  never  be  finished  too  quickly,  for  the 
vanquished,  it  can  never  last  too  long. 
A  speedy  victory  is  a  higher  power  of 
victory,  a  tardy  decision  is,  on  the  side  of 
the  defeated,  some  compensation  for  the 

This  is  in  general  true,  but  it  acquires 
a  practical  importance  in  its  application 
to  those  combats,  the  object  of  which  is 
a  relative  defence. 

Here  the  whole  success  often  lies  in 
the  mere  duration.  This  is  the  reason 
why  we  have  included  it  amongst  the 
strategic  elements. 

The  duration  of  a  combat  is  necessarily 

bound  up  with  its  essential  relations. 
These  relations  are  absolute  magnitude 
of  force,  relation  of  force  and  (of  the 
different)  arms  mutually,  and  nature  of 
the  country.  20,000  men  do  not  wear 
themselves  out  upon  one  another  as 
quickly  as  2,000:  we  cannot  resist  an 
enemy  double  or  three  times  our  strength 
as  long  as  one  of  the  same  strength  ; 
a  cavalry  combat  is  decided  sooner  than 
an  infantry  combat;  and  a  combat 
between  infantry  only,  quicker  than  if 
there  is  artillery  as  well;  in  hills  and 
forests  we  cannot  advance  as  quickly  as 
on  a  level  countiy;  all  this  is  dear 

Prom  this  follows,  therefore,  that 
strength,  relation  of  the  three  arms,  and 
position,  must  be  considered  if  the  com- 
bat is  to  fulfil  an  object  by  its  duration ; 
but  to  set  up  this  rule  was  of  less  import- 
ance to  us  in  our  present  considerations 





than  to  connect  with  it  at  once  the  chief 
results  which  experience  gives  us  on 
the  subject 

Even  the  resistance  of  an  ordinary  di- 
vision of  8,000  to  10,000  men  of  all  arms 
even  opposed  to  an  enemy  considerably 
superior  in  numbers,  will  last  severdi 
hours,  if  the  advantages  of  country  are 
not  too  preponderating,  and  if  the  enemy 
is  only  a  little,  or  not  at  all,  superior  in 
numbers,  the  combat  will  last  half  a  day. 
A  corps  of  three  or  four  divisions  will 
prolong  it  to  double  the  time ;  an  army 
of  80,000  or  100,000  to  three  or  four 

times.  Therefore  the*  masses  may  be 
left  to  themselves  for  that  length  of  time, 
and  no  separate  combat  takes  place  if 
within  that  time  other  forces  can  be 
brought  up,  whose  co-operation  mingles 
then  at  once  into  one  stream  with  the 
results  of  the  combat  which  has  taken 

These  calculations  are  the  result  of  ex- 
perience ;  but  it  is  important  to  us  at  the 
same  time  to  characterise  more  particu- 
larly the  moment  of  the  decision,  and 
consequently  the  termination. 



No  battle  is  decided  in  a  single  mo- 
ment, although  in  every  battle  there  are 
moments  of  g^eat  importance,  which 
chiefly  bring  about  the  result.  The  loss 
of  a  battle  is,  therefore,  a  gradual  falling 
of  the  scale.  But  there  is  in  every  com- 
bat a  point  of  time  when  it  may  bo  re- 
garded as  decided,  in  such  a  way  that 
the  renewal  of  tlio  fight  would  be  a  new 
battle,  not  a  continuation  of  the  old  one. 
To  have  a  clear  notion  on  this  point  of 
time  is  very  important,  in  order  to  be 
able  to  decide  whether,  with  the  prompt 
assistance  of  reinforcements,  the  combat 
can  again  be  resumed  with  advantage. 

Often   in  combats  which  are  beyond 
restoration  new  forces  are  sacrificed  in 
often   through   neglect    the    de- 


cision  has  not  been  turned  when  it  might 
easily  have  been  done.  Here  are  two 
examples,  which  could  not  be  more  to  the 
point : 

When  the  Prince  of  Hohonlohc,    in 

1806,  at  Jena,  with  35,000  men  opposed 
to  from  60,000  to  70,000,  under  Buona- 
parte, had  accepted  battle,  and  lost  it — 
but  lost  it  in  such  a  way  that  the  35,000 
might  be  regarded  as  dissolved — General 
Biichel  imdertook  to  renew  the  fight 
with  about  12,000 ;  the  consequence  was 
that  in  a  moment  his  force  was  scattered 
in  like  manner. 

On  the  otlier  hand,  on  the  same  day  at 
Auerstadt,  the  Prussians  maintained  a 
combat  with  25,000,  against  Davoust, 
who  had  28,000,  until  mid-day,  without 
success,  it  is  true,  but  still  without  the 
force  being  reduced  to  a  state  of  dis- 
solution without  even  greater  loss  than 
the  enemy,  who  was  very  deficient  in 
cavalry ; — and  they  neglected  to  use  the 
reserve  of  18,000,  under  General  Kalk- 
reuth,  to  restore  the  battle  which,  under 
these  circumstances,  it  would  have  been 
impossible  to  lose. — 

Each  combat  is  a  whole  in  which  the 




[book  IV. 

partial  combats  combine  themselves  into 
one  total  result.  In  this  total  result  lies 
the  decision  of  the  combat.  This  suc- 
cess need  not  be  exactly  a  victory  such 
as  we  have  denoted  in  the  sixth  chapter, 
for  often  the  preparations  for  that  have 
not  been  made,  often  there  is  no  oppor- 
tunity if  the  enemy  gives  way  too  soon, 
and  in  most  cases  the  decision,  even  when 
the  resistance  has  been  obstinate,  takes 
place  before  such  a  success  as  essentially 
comes  up  to  the  idea  of  a  victory. 

We  therefore  ask,  Which  is  commonly 
the  moment  of  the  decision,  that  is  to  say, 
that  moment  when  a  fresh,  effective,  of 
course  not  disproportionate  force,  can  no 
longer  turn  a  disadvantageous  battle  ? 

If  we  pass  over  false  attacks^  which  in 
accordance  with  their  nature  are  properly 
without  decision,  then 

1.  If  the  possession  of  a  moveable 
object  was  the  object  of  the  combat,  the 
loss  of  the  same  is  always  the  decision. 

2.  If  the  possession  of  ground  was  the 
object  of  the  combat,  then  the  decision 
generally  lies  likewise  in  the  loss  of  that ; 
still*  not  always,  that  is  only  if  this 
ground  is  of  peculiar  strength,  ground 
which  is  easy  to  pass  over,  however 
important  it  may  be  in  other  respects, 
can  be  re-taken  without  much  danger. 

3.  But  in  all  other  cases,  when  these 
two  circumstances  have  not  already 
decided  the  combat,  therefore,  particularly 
in  case  the  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
force  is  the  principal  object,  the  decision 
lies  in  the  moment  when  the  conqueror 
ceases  to  feel  himself  in  a  state  of 
disintegration,  that  is,  of  unserviceable- 
ness  to  a  certain  extent,  therefore  when 
there  is  no  further  advantage  in  using 
the  successive  efforts  spoken  of  in  the 
twelfth  chapter  of  the  third  book.  On 
this  ground  wo  have  given  the  strategic 
unity  of  the  battle  its  place  here. 

A  battle,  therefore,  in  which  the 
assailant  has  not  lost  his  condition  of 
order  and  perfect  efficiency  at  all,  or,  at 
least,  only  in  a  small  part  of  his  force, 

whilst  our  forces  are,  more  or  less,  disor- 
ganised  throughout,  is  also  not  to  be 
retrieved ;  and  just  as  little  if  the  enemy 
has  recovered  his  efficiency. 

The  smaller,  therefore,  that  part  of  a 
force  is  which  has  really  been  engaged, 
the  greater  that  portion  is  which  as  re- 
serve has  contributed  to  the  result  only 
by  its  presence,  so  much  the  less  will 
any  new  force  of  the  enemy  wrest  again 
the  victory  from  our  hands,  and  that 
commander  who  carries  out  to  the  fur- 
thest with  his  army  the  principle  of  con- 
ducting the  combat  with  the  greatest 
economy  of  forces,  and  making  the  most 
of  the  moral  effect  of  strong  reserves, 
goes  the  surest  way  to  victory.  We 
must  allow  that  the  French,  in  modem 
times,  especially  when  led  by  Buonaparte, 
have  shown  a  thorough  mastery  in  this. 

Further,  the  moment  when  the  crisis- 
stage  of  the  combat  ceases  with  the  con- 
queror, and  his  original  state  of  order  is 
restored,  takes  place  sooner  the  smaller 
the  whole  is.  A  picket  of  cavalry  pur- 
suing an  enemy  at  full  gallop  will  in  a 
few  minutes  resume  its  proper  order,  and 
the  crisis  also  ceases :  a  whole  regiment 
of  cavalry  requires  for  this  a  longer  time ; 
it  lasts  still  longer  with  infantry,  if  ex- 
tended in  single  lines  of  skirmishers,  and 
longer  again  with  divisions  of  all  arms, 
when  it  happens  by  chance  that  one  part 
has  taken  one  direction  and  another  part 
another  direction,  and  the  combat  has 
therefore  caused  a  loss  of  the  order  of  for- 
mation, which  usually  becomes  still  worse 
from  no  part  knowing  exactly  where  the 
other  is.  Thus,  therefore,  ^e  point  of 
time  when  the  conqueror  has  collected 
the  instruments  he  has  been  using,  and 
which  are  mixed  up  and  partly  out  of 
order,  the  moment  when  he  has  in  some 
measure  rearranged  them  and  put  them 
in  their  proper  places,  and  thus  brought 
the  battle-workshop  into  a  little  order, 
this  moment,  we  say,  is  always  later,  the 
greater  the  total  force. 

Again,  this  moment  comes  later  if  night 




OTertakes  the  conqueror  in  the  crisis,  and, 
lastly,  it  comes  later  if  the  country  is  bro- 
ken and  thickly  wooded.  But  with  regard 
to  these  two  points,  we  must  observe  that 
night  is  also  a  great  means  of  protec- 
tion, and  it  is  only  seldom  that  circum- 
stances favour  the  expectation  of  a  suc- 
cessful result  from  a  night  attack,  as  on 
the  10th  March,  1814,  at  Laon,  where 
York  against  Marmont  gives  us  an  exam- 
ple completely  in  place  here.  In  the 
same  way  a  wooded  and  broken  country 
will  afford  protection  against  a  reaction 
to  those  who  are  engaged  in  the  long 
crisis  of  victory.  Both,  therefore,  the 
night  as  well  as  the  wooded  and  broken 
country  are  obstacles  which  make  the 
renewal  of  the  same  battle  more  difficult 
instead  of  facilitating  it. 

Hitherto,  we  have  considered  assistance 
arriving  for  the  losing  side  as  a  mere 
increase  of  force,  therefore,  as  a  reinforce- 
ment coming  up  directly  from  the  rear, 
which  is  the  most  usual  case.  But  the 
case  is  quite  different  if  these  fresh  forces 
come  upon  the  enemy  in  flank  or  rear. 

On  the  effect  of  flank  or  rear  attacks, 
80  far  as  they  boLong  to  strategy,  we  shall 
speak  in  another  place  :  such  an  one  as 
we  have  here  in  view,  intended  for  the 
restoration  of  the  combat,  belongs  chiefly 
to  tactics,  and  is  only  mentioned  because 
we  are  here  speaking  of  tactical  results, 
our  ideas,  therefore,  must  trench  upon 
the  province  of  tactics. 

By  directing  a  force  against  the  enemy's 
flank  and  rear  its  efi&cacy  may  be  much 
intensified ;  but  this  is  so  far  from  being 
a  necessary  result  always  that  the  efficacy 
may  on  the  other  hand  be  just  as  much 
weakened.  The  circumstances  imder 
which  the  combat  has  taken  place  decide 
upon  this  part  of  the  plan  as  weU  as  upon 
every  other,  without  our  being  able  to 
enter  thereupon  here.  But,  at  the  same 
time,  there  are  in  it  two  things  of  impor- 
tance for  our  subject:  first,  jUxnk  and  rear 
attacks  have,  as  a  rule,  a  mors  favourable 
effect  on  the  consequences  of  the  decision  than 

upon  the  decision  itself.  Now  as  concerns 
the  retrieving  a  battle,  the  first  thing  to 
be  arrived  at  above  all  is  a  favourable 
decision  and  not  magnitude  of  success. 
In  this  view  one  would  therefore  think 
that  a  force  which  comes  to  re-establish 
our  combat  is  of  less  assistance  if  it  falls 
upon  the  enemy  in  flank  and  rear,  there- 
fore separated  from  us,  than  if  it  joins - 
itself  to  us  directly:  certainly,  cases  are 
not  wanting  where  it  is  so,  but  we  must 
say  that  the  majority  are  on  the  other  side, 
and  they  are  so  on  account  of  the  second 
point  which  is  here  important  to  us. 

This  second  point  is  the  moral  effect  of 
the  surprise^  which,  as  a  ruU,  a  reinforce- 
ment coming  up  to  re-establish  a  combat  has 
generally  in  its  favour.  Now  the  effect  of 
a  surprise  is  always  heightened  if  it  takes 
place  in  the  flank  or  rear,  and  an  enemy 
completely  engaged  in  the  crisis  of  victory 
in  his  extended  and  scattered  order,  is 
less  in  a  state  to  counteract  it.  Who  does 
not  feel  that  an  attack  in  flank  or  rear, 
which  at  the  commencement  of  the  battle, 
when  the  forces,  are  concentrated  and  pre- 
pared for  such  an  event,  would  be  of  little 
importance,  gains  quite  another  weight 
in  the  last  moment  of  the  combat. 

We  must,  therefore,  at  once  admit  that 
in  most  cases  a  reinforcement  coming  up 
on  the  flank  or  rear  of  the  enemy  will 
be  more  efficacious,  will  be  like  the  same 
weight  at  the  end  of  a  longer  lever,  and 
therefore  that  under  these  circumstances, 
we  may  undertake  to  restore  the  battle 
with  the  same  force  which  in  a  direct  way 
would  be  quite  insufficient.  Here  results 
almost  defy  calculation,  because  the 
moral  forces  gain  completely  the  ascen- 
dancy. Here  is,  then,  the  right  field  for 
boldness  and  daring. 

The  eye  must,  Uierefore,  be  directed 
on  all  these  objects,  all  these  moments  of 
co-operating  forces  must  be  taken  into 
consideration  if  we  have  to  decide  in 
doubtful  cases  whether  or  not  it  is  still 
possible  to  restore  a  combat  which  has 
taken  an  unfavourable  turn. 



[book  IV. 

If  the  combat  is  to  be  regarded  as  not 
yet  ended,  then  the  new  contest  which  is 
opened  by  the  arrival  of  assistance  be* 
comes  one  with  the  former ;  therefore  they 
flow  together  into  one  common  result, 
and  the  first  disadvantage  vanishes  then 
completely  out  of  the  calculation.  But 
this  is  not  the  case  if  the  combat  was 
already  decided ;  then  there  are  two 
results  separate  from  each  other.  Now 
if  the  assistance  which  arrives  is  only 
of  a  relative  strength,  that  is,  if  it  is  not 
in  itself  alone  a  match  for  the  enemy, 
then  a  favourable  result  is  hardly  to  be 
expected  from  this  second  combat:  but 
if  it  is  so  strong  that  it  can  undertake 
the  second  combat  without  regard  to  the 
first,  then  it  may  be  able  by  a  favourable 
issue  to  compensate  or  even  overbalance 
the  first  combat,  but  never  to  make  it 
disappear  altogether  from  the  account. 

At  the  battle  of  Kunersdorf,  Frederick 
the  Great  at  the  first  onset  carried  the 
left  of  the  Bussian  position,  and  took  70 
pieces  of  artillery;  at  the  end  of  the 
battle  both  were  lost  again,  and  the 
whole  result  of  the  first  combat  was 
wiped  out  of  the  account.  Had  it  been 
possible  to  stop  at  the  first  success,  and 
to  put  off  the  second  part  of  the  battle  to 
the  coming  day,  then,  even  if  the  king 
had  lost  it,  the  advantages  of  the  first 
would  always  have  been  a  set  off  to  the 

But  when  a  battle  proceeding  disad- 
vantageously  is  arrested  and  turned  be- 
fore its  conclusion,  its  minus  result  on 
our  side  not  only  disappears  from  the 
account,  but  also  becomes  the  foimdation 
of  a  greater  victory.  If,  for  instance, 
we  picture  to  ourselves  exactly  the  tac- 
tical course  of  the  battle,  we  may  easily 
see  that  until  it  is  finally  concluded  all 
successes  in  partial  combats  are  only  de- 
cisions in  suspense,  which  by  the  capital 
decision  may  not  only  be  destroyed,  but 
changed  into  the  opposite.  The  more 
our  f|^rces  have  suffered,  the  more  will 
the  enemy  have  expended  on  his  side ; 

the  greater,  therefore,  also  will  be  the 
crisis  for  the  enemy,  and  the  more  con- 
siderable will  be  the  superiority  of  our 
fresh  troops.  If  now  the  total  result 
turns  in  our  favour,  if  we  wrest  from  the 
enemy  the  field  of  battle  and  recover  all 
the  trophies  again,  then  will  all  the  forces 
which  he  has  sacrificed  in  obtcuning  them 
become  sheer  gain  for  us,  and  our  former 
defeat  becomes  a  stepping  stone  to  a 
greater  triumph.  The  most  brilliant 
feats  which  with  victory  the  enemy  would 
have  so  highly  prized  that  the  loss  of 
forces  which  they  cost  would  have  been 
disregarded,  leave  nothing  now  behind 
but  regret  at  the  sacrifice  of  those  forces. 
Such  is  the  alteration  which  the  magic 
of  victory  and  the  curse  of  defeat  pro- 
duces in  the  specific  weight  of  the  same 

Therefore,  even  if  we  are  decidedly 
superior  in  strength,  and  are  able  to  re- 
pay the  enemy  his  victory  by  a  greater 
still,  it  is  always  better  to  forestall  the 
conclusion  of  a  disadvantageous  combat, 
if  it  is  of  proportionate  importance,  so 
as  to  turn  its  course  rather  than  to  deliver 
a  second  battle. 

Field-marshal  Daun  attempted  in  the 
year  1760  to  come  to  the  assistance  of 
General  Laudon  at  Leignitz,  whilst  the 
battle  lasted ;  but  when  he  failed  in  that 
he  did  not  attack  the  king  next  day,  al- 
though he  did  not  want  for  force  to  do  so. 

For  these  reasons  serious  combats  of 
advanced  guards  which  precede  a  battle 
are  to  be  looked  upon  only  as  necessary 
evils,  and  when  not  necessary  they  are 
to  be  avoided. 

We  have  still  another  conclusion  to 

If  a  regular  pitched  battle  is  a  set- 
tled thing  it  does  not  constitute  a  motive 
for  determining  on  a  new  one.  The 
determination  for  this  new  one  must  pro- 
ceed from  the  other  relations.  This  con- 
clusion, however,  is  opposed  by  a  moral 
force,  which  we  must  take  into  account: 
it  is   the  fooling  of  rage  and  revenge. 



From  the  oldest  field-marshal  to  the 
youngest  drummer-boy  this  feeling  is 
general,  and,  therefore,  troops  are  never 
in  better  spirits  for  fighting  than  when 
they  have  to  wipe  out  a  stain.  This  is, 
however,  only  on  the  supposition  that 
the  beaten  portion  is  not  too  great  in  pro- 
portion to  the  whole,  because  otherwise 
the  above  feeling  is  lost  in  that  of  power - 

There  is  therefore  a  very  natural 
tendency  to  use  this  moral  force  to  repair 
the  disaster  on  the  spot,  and  on  that 
account  chiefly  to  seek  another  battle  if 
other  circumstances  permit.  It  then  lies 
in  the  nature  of  the  case  that  this  second 
battle  must  be  an  offensive  one. 

In  the  catalogue  of  battles  of  second- 
rate  importance  there  are  many  examples 
to  be  found  of  such  retaliatoi^r  batlles ; 
but  great  battles  have  generally  too  many 
other  determining  causes  to  be  broaght 
on  by  this  weaker  motive. 

Such  a  feeling  must  undoubtedly  have 
led  the  noble  Bliicher  with  his  third 
corps  to  the  field  of  battle  on  the  14th 
February,  1814,  when  the  other  two  had 
been  beaten  three  days  before  at  Mont- 
mirail.  Had  he  known  that  he  would 
have  come  upon  Buonaparte  in  person, 
then,  naturally,  preponderating  reasons 
would  have  determined  him  to  put  off 
his  revenge  to  another  day :  but  he 
hoped  to  revenge  himself  on  Marmont, 
and  instead  of  gaining  the  reward  of 
his  desire  of  honourable  satisfaction,  he 

suffered  the  penalty  of  his  erroneous 

On  the  duration  of  the  combat  and  the 
moment  of  its  decision  depend  the  dis- 
tances  from  each  other  at  which  those 
masses  should  be  placed  which  are  in- 
tended to  fight  in  conjunction  with  each 
other.  This  disposition  would  be  a  tac- 
tical arrangement  in  so  far  as  it  relates 
to  one  and  the  same  battle;  it  can, 
however,  only  be  regarded  as  such,  pro- 
vided the  position  of  the  troops  is  si^ 
compact  that  two  separate  combats  cannot 
be  imagined,  and  consequently  that  the 
space  which  the  whole  occupies  can  be 
regarded  strategically  as  a  mere  point. 
But  in  war,  cases  frequently  occur  where 
even  those  forces  intended  to  fight  in 
unison  must  be  so  far  separated  from  each 
other  that  while  their  union  for  one 
common  combat  certainly  remains  the 
principal  object,  still  the  occurrence 
of  separate  combats  remains  possible. 
Such  a  disposition  is  therefore  strategic. 

Dispositions  of  this  kind  are:  maizes 
in  separate  masses  and  columns,  advanced 
guards,  and  side-corps  reserves,  which 
are  intended  to  serve  as  supports  for  more 
than  one  strategic  point ;  &e  concentra- 
tion of  several  corps  from  widely  ex- 
tended cantonments,  etc.,  etc.  We  can 
see  that  they  may  constantly  happen, 
and  constitute  something  like  the  small 
change  in  the  strategic  economy,  whilst 
the  capital  battles,  and  all  that  rank  with 
them  are  the  gold  and  silver  pieces. 



No  battle  can  take  place  unless  by  the  root  of  a  certain  phraseology  used  by 
mutual  consent ;  and  in  this  idea,  which  historical  writers,  which  leads  to  many 
constitutes  the  whole  basis  of  a  duel,  is     indefinite  and  false  conceptions. 



[book    IV. 

According  to  the  view  of  the  writers 
to  whom  we  refer,  it  has  frequently  hap- 
pened that  one  commander  has  offered 
battle  to  the  other,  and  the  latter  has  not 
accepted  it. 

But  the  battle  is  a  very  modified  duel, 
and  its  foundation  is  not  merely  in  the 
mutual  wish  to  fight,  that  is  consent, 
but  in  the  objects  which  are  boimd  up 
with  the  battle :  these  belong  always  to 
a  greater  whole^  and  that  so  much  the 
more  so,  as  even  the  whole  war  con- 
sidered as  a  '^  combat-unit"  has  political 
objects  and  conditions  which  belong  to 
a  greater  whole.  So  therefore  the  mere 
desire  to  conquer  each  other,  falls  into 
quite  a  subordinate  relation,  or  rather  it 
ceases  completely  to  be  anything  of  itself, 
and  is  only  to  be  regarded  as  the  nerve 
which  lends  motion  to  the  higher  will. 

Amongst  the  ancients,  and  then  again 
during  the  early  period  of  standing 
armies,  the  expression  that  we  had  of- 
fered battle  to  the  enemy  in  vain,  had 
more  sense  in  it  than  it  has  now.  By  the 
ancients  everything  was  constituted  with 
a  view  to  measuring  each  others'  strength 
in  the  open  field  free  from  anything  in 
the  nature  of  a  hindrance,  and  &e  whole 
art  of  war  consisted  in  the  organisation, 
and  formation  of  the  army,  that  is  in  the 
order  of  battle. 

Now  as  their  a^nies  regularly  en- 
trenched themselves  in  their  camps, 
therefore  the  position  in  a  camp  was 
regarded  as  something  unassailable,  and 
a  battle  did  not  become  possible  until 
the  enemy  left  his  camp,  and  placed  him- 
self in  a  practicable  country,  as  it  were 
entered  the  lists. 

If  therefore  we  hear  about  Hannibal 
having  offered  battle  to  Fabius  in  vain, 
that  tells  us  nothing  more  as  regards  the 
latter  than  that  a  battle  was  not  part  of  his 
plan,  and  in  itself  neither  proves  the  phy- 
sical nor  moral  superiority  of  Hannibal ; 
but  with  respect  to  him  the  expression  is 
still  correct  enough  in  the  sense  that 
Hannibal  roallv  wished  a  battle. 

In  the  early  period  of  modem  armies, 
the  relations  were  similar  in  great 
combats  and  battles.  That  is  great 
masses  were  brought  into  action,  and 
managed  throughout  it  by  means  of  an 
order  of  battle,  which  like  a  great  help- 
less whole  more  or  less  required  a  level 
plain,  and  was  neither  suited  to  attack, 
nor  yet  to  defence  in  a  very  broken, 
close  or  even  mountainous  country.  The 
defender  therefore  had  here  also  to  some 
extent  the  means  of  avoiding  battle. 
These  relations  although  gradually  be- 
coming modified,  continued  until  the  first 
Silesian  War,  and  it  was  not  imtil  the 
Seven  Years'  War  that  attacks  on  an 
enemy  posted  in  a  difiicult  country  gra- 
dually became  feasible,  and  of  ordinary 
occurrence :  ground  did  not  certainly  now 
cease  to  be  a  principle  of  strength  to 
those  making  use  of  its  aid,  but  it  was 
no  longer  a  charmed  circle,  which  shut 
out  the  natural  forces  of  war. 

During  the  past  thirty  years  war  has 
perfected  itself  much  more  still  in  this 
respect,  and  there  is  no  longer  anything 
which  stands  in  the  way  of  a  general  who 
is  in  earnest  about  a  decision  by  means 
of  battle  ;  he  can  seek  out  his  enemy,  and 
attack  him :  if  he  does  not  do  so  he  can- 
not take  credit  for  having  wished  to 
fight,  and  the  expression  he  offered  a 
battle  which  his  opponent  did  not  accept, 
therefore  now  means  nothing  more  than 
that  he  did  not  find  circumstances  advan- 
tageous enough  for  a  battle,  an  admission 
which  the  above  expression  does  not 
suit,  but  which  it  only  strives  to  throw 
a  veil  over. 

It  is  true  the  defensive  side  can  no 
longer  refuse  a  battle,  yet  he  may  still 
avoid  it  by  giving  up  his  position,  and 
the  role  with  which  that  position  was 
connected  :  this  is  however  half  a  victory 
for  the  offensive  side,  and  an  acknowledg- 
ment of  his  superiority  for  the  present. 

This  idea  in  connection  with  the  car- 
tel of  defiance  can  therefore  no  longer  be 
made  use  of  in  order  by  such  rhodomon- 

CHAP.  IX.] 



tade  to  qualify  fiie  inaction  of  him  whose 
part  it  is  to  advance,  that  is,  the  of- 
fensive. The  defender  who  as  long  as 
he  does  not  give  way,  must  have  the 
credit  of  willing  the  battle,  may  certainly 
say,  he  has  ofiPered  it  if  he  is  not  attacked, 
if  that  is  not  understood  of  itself. 

But  on  the  other  hand,  he  who  now 
wishes  to,  and  can  retreat  cannot  easily 
be  forced  to  give  battle.  Now  as  the 
advantages  to  the  aggressor  from  this 
retreat  are  often  not  sufficient,  and  a  sub- 
stantial victory  is  a  matter  of  urgent 
necessity  for  him,  in  that  way  the  few 
means  which  there  are  to  compel  such  an 
opponent  also  to  give  battle  are  often 
sought  for  and  applied  with  particular 

The  principal  means  for  this  are— first 
iwrraunding  the  enemy  so  as  to  make  his 
retreat  impossible,  or  at  least  so  difficult 
that  it  is  better  for  him  to  accept  battle ; 
and,  secondly,  the  surprising  him.  This 
last  way,  for  which  there  was  a  motive 
formerly  in  the  extreme  difficulty  of  all 
movements,  has  become  in  modem  times 
very  inefficacious.  From  the  pliability 
and  manoeuvring  capabilities  of  troops 
in  the  present  day,  one  does  not  hesitate 
to  commence  a   retreat  even    in  sight 

of  the  enemy,  and  only  some  special  ob- 
stacles in  the  nature  of  the  country 
can  cause  serious  difficulties  in*  the 

One  example  of  this  kind  might  be 
the  battle  of  Neresheim,  fought  by  the 
Archduke  Charles  with  Moreau  in  the 
Bauhe  Alp,  11th  August,  1796,  merely 
with  a  view  to  facilitate  his  retreat, 
although  we  freely  confess  we  have 
never  been  able  quite  to  understand  the 
argument  of  the  renowned  general  and 
author  himself  in  this  case. 

The  battle  of  Bosbach  is  another 
example,  if  we  suppose  the  commander 
of  the  allied  army  had  not  really  the 
intention  of  attacking  Frederick  the 

Of  the  battle  of  Soor,  the  king  himself 
says  that  it  was  only  fought  because  a 
retreat  in  the  presence  of  the  enemy 
appeared  to  him  a  critical  operation  ;  at 
the  same  time  the  king  has  also  given 
other  reasons  for  the  battle. 

On  the  whole,  regular  night  surprises 
excepted,  such  cases  will  always  be  of 
rare  occurrence,  and  those  in  which  an 
enemy  is  compelled  to  fight  by  being 
surrounded,  .will  happen  mostly  to  single 
corps  only,  Hke  FiiJss^  at  Maxen. 




What  is  a  general  action  ?  A  conflict  of 
the  main  body,  but  not  an  unimportant 
one  about  a  secondary  object,  not  a  mere 
attempt  which  is  given  up  when  we  see 
betimes  that  our  object  is  hardly  within 
our  reach :  it  is  a  conflict  with  all  our 
might  for  a  real  victory. 
Minor  objects  may  also  be  mixed  up 

with  the  principal  object  in  a  general 
action,  and  it  will  take  many  diflerent 
tones  of  colour  from  the  circumstances 
out  of  which  it  originates,  for  a  general 
action  belongs  also  to  a  greater  whole 
of  which  it  is  only  a  part ;  but  be- 
cause the  essence  of  war  is  conflict,  and 
the  general  action  is  the  conflict  of  the 



[book  rv. 

main  body,  it  is  always  to  be  regarded  as 
the  real  centre  of  gravity  of  the  war,  and 
it  is  therefore,  its  distinguishing  character 
in  general,  that  it  happens  more  than  any 
other  battle  on  its  own  accoimt. 

This  has  an  influence  on  the  manner 
of  iU  decision^  on  the  effect  of  the  victory 
contained  in  it,  and  determines  the  value 
which  theory  is  to  assign  to  it  as  a 
means  to  an  end.  On  that  account  we 
make  it  the  subject  of  our  special  con- 
sideration, and  at  this  stage  before  we 
enter  upon  the  special  ends  which  may 
be  bound  up  with  it,  but  which  do  not 
essentially  alter  its  character  if  it  really 
deserves  to  be  termed  a  general  action. 

If  a  general  action  takes  place  princi- 
pally on  its  own  account,  the  elements  of 
its  decision  must  be  contained  in  itself; 
in  other  words,  victory  must  be  sought 
for  in  it  as  long  as  a  possibility  of  that 
remains,  and  it  must  not,  therefore,  be 
given  up  on  account  of  secondary  circum- 
stances, but  only  and  alone  in  the  event 
of  the  forces  appearing  completely  in- 

Now  how  is  that  precise  moment  to  be 
described  ? 

If  a  certain  artificial  formation  and 
cohesion  of  an  army  is  the  principal 
condition  under  which  the  bravery  of  the 
troops  can  gain  a  victory,  as  was  the  case 
during  g^eat  part  of  the  period  of  the 
modem  art  of  war,  then  the  breaking  up  of 
this  formation  is  the  decision.  A  beaten 
wing  which  is  put  out  of  joint  decides  the 
fate  of  all  that  was  connected  with  it.  If 
as  was  the  case  at  another  time  the  essence 
of  the  defence  consists  in  an  intimate  alii* 
ance  of  the  army  with  the  ground  on  which 
it  fights  and  its  obstacles,  so  that  army  and 
position  are  only  one,  then  the  conquest  of 
an  essential  point  in  this  position  is  the  de- 
cision. It  is  said  the  key  of  the  position 
is  lost,  it  cannot  therefore  be  defended 
any  further;  the  battle  cannot  be  con- 
tinued. In  both  cases  the  beaten  armies 
are  very  much  like  the  broken  strings  of 
an  instrument  which  cannot  do  their  work. 

That  geometrical  as  well  as  this  geo- 
graphical principle  which  had  a  ten- 
dency to  place  an  army  in  a  state  of 
crystallising  tension^which  did  not  allow 
of  the  available  powers  being  made  use 
of  up  to  the  last  man,  have  at  least  so  far 
lost  their  influence  that  they  no  longer 
predominate.  Armies  are  still  led  into 
battle  in  a  certain  order,  but  that  order 
is  no  longer  of  decisive  importance  ;  ob- 
stacles of  ground  are  also  still  turned  to 
account  to  strengthen  a  position,  but 
they  are  no  longer  the  only  support. 

We  attempted  in  the  second  chapter 
of  this  book  to  take  a  general  view  of 
the  nature  of  the  modem  battle.  Accord- 
ing to  our  conception  of  it,  the  order  of 
battle  is  only  a  disposition  of  the  forces 
suitable  to  the  convenient  use  of  them, 
and  its  course  a  mutual  slow  wearing 
away  of  these  forces  upon  one  another, 
to  see  which  will  have  soonest  exhausted 
his  adversary. 

The  resolution  therefore  to  give  up  the 
fight  arises,  in  a  general  action  more  than 
in  any  other  combat,  irom  the  relation 
of  the  fresh  reserves  remaining  available ; 
for  only  these  still  retain  all  their  moral 
vigour,  and  the  cinders  of  the  battered, 
knock ed-about  battallions,  already  burnt 
out  in  the  destroying  element,  must  not 
be  placed  on  a  level  with'  them ;  also 
lost  ground  as  we  have  elsewhere  said,  is  a 
standard  of  lost  moral  force  ;  it  therefore 
comes  also  into  account,  but  more  as  a  sign 
of  loss  suffered  than  for  the  loss  itself,  and 
the  number  of  fresh  reserves  is  always 
the  chief  point  to  be  looked  at  by  both 

In  general,  an  action  inclines  in  one 
direction  from  the  very  commencement, 
but  in  a  manner  little  observable.  This 
direction  is  also  frequently  given  in  a 
very  decided  manner  by  the  arrangements 
which  have  been  made  previously,  and 
then  it  is  a  want  of  descemment  in  that 
general  who  commences  battle  under 
these  unfavourable  oircumstancoR  without 
being  aware  of  them.     Even  wlien  tliis 

CHAP.  IX.] 



does  not  occur  it  lies  in  the  nature  of 
things  that  the  course  of  a  battle  re- 
sembles rather  a  slow  disturbance  of 
equilibiium  which  oommences  soon,  but 
as  we  have  said  almost  imperceptibly  at 
first,  and  then  with  each  moment  of  time 
becomes  stronger  and  more  visible,  than 
an  oscillating  to  and  fro,  as  those  who  are 
misled  by  mendacious  descriptions  usually 

But  whether  it  happens  that  the  balance  • 
is  for  a  long  time  little  disturbed,  or  that 
even  after  it  has  been  lost  on  one  side  it 
rights  itself  again,  and  is  then  lost  on  the 
other  side,  it  is  certain  at  all  events  that  in 
most  instances  the  defeated  general  fore- 
sees his  fate  long  before  he  retreats,  and 
that  cases  in  which  some  critical  event  acts 
with  unexpected  force  upon  the  course  of 
the  whole  have  their  existence  mostly  in 
the  colouring  with  which  every  one  de- 
picts his  lost  battle. 

We  can  only  here  appeal  to  the  de- 
cision of  unprejudiced  men  of  experience, 
who  will,  we  are  sure,  assent  to  what  we 
have  said,  and  answer  for  us  to  such  of  * 
our  readers  as  do  not  know  war  from 
their  own  experience.  To  develop  the 
necessity  of  this  course  from  the  nature 
of  the  thing  would  lead  us  too  far  into 
the  province  of  tactics,  to  which  this 
subject  belongs ;  we  are  here  only  con- 
cerned with  its  results. 

If  we  say  that  the  defeated  general 
foresees  the  unfavourable  result  usually 
some  time  before  he  makes  up  his  mind 
to  give  up  the  battle,  we  admit  that  there 
are  also  instances  to  the  contrary,  because 
otherwise  we  should  maintain  a  propo- 
sition contradictory  in  itself.  If  at  the 
moment  of  each  decisive  tendency  of  a 
battle  it  should  be  considered  as  lost, 
then  also  no  further  forces  should  be  used 
to  give  it  a  turn,  and  consequently  this 
decisive  tendency  could  not  precede  the 
retreat  by  any  length  of  time.  Certainly 
there  are  instances  of  battles  which  after 
having  taken  a  decided  turn  to  one  side 
have  still  ended  in  favour  of  the  other ; 

but  they  are  rare,  not  usual;  these  ex- 
ceptional cases,  however,  are  reckoned 
upon  by  every  general  against  whom 
fortune  declares  itself,  and  he  must 
reckon  upon  them  as  long  as  there  re- 
mains a  possibility  of  a  turn  of  fortune. 
He  hopes  by  stronger  efforts,  by  raising 
the  remaining  moral  forces,  by  surpass- 
ing himself,  or  also  by  some  fortunate 
chance  that  the  next  moment  will  bring  a 
change,  and  pursues  this  as  far  as  his 
courage  and  his  judgment  can  agree.  We 
shall  have  something  more  to  say  on  this 
subject,  but  before  that  we  must  show 
what  are  the  signs  of  the  scales  turning. 

The  result  of  the  whole  combat  consists 
in  the  sum  total  of  the  results  of  all  par- 
tial combats ;  but  these  results  of  separate 
combats  are  settled  by  different  things. 

First  by  the  pure  moral  power  in  the 
mind  of  the  leading  officers.  If  a  gene- 
ral of  division  has  seen  his  battalions 
forced  to  succumb,  it  will  have  an  influ- 
ence on  his  demeanour  and  his  reports, 
and  these  again  wiU  have  an  influence  on 
the  measures  of  the  commander-in-chief; 
therefore  even  those  unsuccessful  partial 
combats  which  to  all  appearance  are 
retrieved,  are  not  lost  in  their  results,  and 
the  impressions  from  them  sum  them- 
selves up  in  the  mind  of  the  commander 
without  much  trouble,  and  even  against 
his  will. 

Secondly,  by  the  quicker  melting  away 
of  our  troops,  which  in  the  slow  little 
timiultuary  course  of  our  battles  can  be 
easily  estimated. 

Thirdly,  by  lost  ground. 

All  these  things  serve  for  the  eye  of 
the  general  as  a  compass  to  tell  the  course 
of  the  battle  in  which  he  is  embarked. 
If  whole  batteries  have  been  lost  and 
none  of  the  enemy's  taken  ;  if  battalions 
have  been  overthrown  by  the  enemy's 
cavalry,  whilst  those  of  the  enemy  every- 
where present  impenetrable  masses ;  if  the 
line  of  fire  from  his  order  of  battle  wavers 
involuntarily  from  one  point  to  another ; 
if  fruitless  efforts  have  been  made  to  gain 



[book  nr. 

certain  points,  and  the  assaulting  bat- 
talions each  time  been  scattered  by  well- 
directed  volleys  of  grape  and  canister; 
— if  our  artillery  begins  to  reply  feebly 
to  that  of  the  enemy ; — ^if  the  battalions 
under  fir^  diminish  unusually  fast,  be- 
cause with  the  woimded  crowds  of  un- 
wounded  men  go  to  the  rear; — if  single 
diyisions  have  been  cut  off  and  made  pri- 
soners through  the  disruption  of  the  plan 
of  the  battle ; — if  the  line  of  retreat  begins 
to  be  endangered :  then  by  all  these  things 
the  commander  may  tell  very  well  in 
which  direction  he  is  going  with  his 
battle.  The  longer  this  direction  con- 
tinues, the  more  decided  it  becomes,  so 
much  the  more  difficult  will  be  the  turn- 
ing, BO  much  the  nearer  the  moment 
when  he  must  give  up  the  battle.  We 
shall  now  make  some  observations  on 
this  moment. 

We  have  already  said  more  than  once 
that  the  final  decision  is  ruled  mostly  by 
the  relative  number  of  the  fresh  re- 
serves remaining  at  the  last ;  that  com- 
mander who  sees  his  adversary  is  de- 
cidedly superior  to  him  in  this  respect 
makes  up  his  mind  to  retreat.  It  is  just 
the  characteristic  of  modem  battles  that 
all  mischances  and  losses  which  take 
place  in  the  course  of  the  same  can  be 
retrieved  by  fresh  forces,  because  the 
arrangement  of  the  modem  order  of 
battle,  and  the  way  in  which  troops  are 
brought  into  action,  allow  of  their  use 
almost  generally,  and  in  each  position. 
So  long,  therefore,  as  that  commander 
against  whom  the  issue  seems  to  declare 
itself  still  retains  a  superiority  in  reserve 
force,  he  will  not  give  up  the  day.  But 
from  the  moment  that  his  reserves  begin 
to  become  weaker  than  his  enemy's,  the 
decision  may  be  regarded  as  settled,  and 
what  he  now  does  depends  partly  on 
special  circumstances,  partly  on  the  de- 
gree of  courage  and  perseverance  which 
he  personally  possesses,  and  which  may 
degenerate  into  foolish  obstinacy.  How 
a  commander  can  attain  to  the  power  of 

estimating  correctly  the  still  remaining 
reserves  on  both  sides  is  an  affair  of  skil- 
ful practical  ability,  which  does  not  in 
any  way  belong  ta  this  place ;  we  keep 
ourselves  to  the  result  as  it  forms  itself 
in  his  mind.  But  this  conclusion  is  still 
not  the  moment  of  decision  properly,  for 
a  motive  which  only  rises  gradually  does 
not  answer  to  that,  but  is  only  a  general 
motive  towards  resolution,  and  the  reso- 
lution itself  requires  still  some  special 
immediate  causes.  Of  these  there  are 
two  chief  ones  which  constantly  recur, 
that  is,  the  danger  of  retreat,  and  the 
arrival  of  night. 

If  the  retreat  with  every  new  step 
which  the  battle  takes  in  its  course  be- 
comes constantly  in  greater  danger,  and 
if  the  reserves  are  so  much  diminished 
that  they  are  no  longer  adequate  to  get 
breathing  room,  then  there  is  nothing  left 
but  to  submit  to  fate,  and  by  a  well-con- 
ducted retreat  to  save  what,  by  a  longer 
delay  ending  in  flight  and  disaster, 
would  bo  lost. 

But  night  as  a  rule  puts  an  end  to  all 
battles,  because  a  night  combat  holds  out 
no  hope  of  advantage,  except  under  par- 
ticular .  circumstances ;  and  as  night  is 
better  suited  for  a  retreat  than  the  day, 
so,  therefore,  the  commander  who  must 
look  at  the  retreat  as  a  thing  inevitable, 
or  as  most  probable,  will  prefer  to  make 
use  of  the  night  for  his  purpose. 

That  there  are,  besides  the  above  two 
usual  and  chief  causes,  yet  many  others 
also,  which  are  less  or  more  individual  and 
not  to  be  overlooked,  is  a  matter  of  course; 
for  the  more  a  battle  tends  towards  a 
complete  upset  of  equilibrium  the  more 
sensible  is  the  influence  of  each  partial 
result  in  hastening  the  turn.  Thus  the 
loss  of  a  battery,  a  successful  charge  of  a 
couple  of  regiments  of  cavalry,  may  call 
into  life  the  resolution  to  retreat  already 

As  a  conclusion  to  this  subject,  we 
must  dwell  for  a  moment  on  the  point  at 
which  the  courage  of  the  commander  en- 

CHAP.  X.] 



gages    in    a    sort  of   conflict  with  Ids 

If,  on  the  one  hand,  the  overbearing 
pride  of  a  Tictorious  conqueror,  if  the  in- 
flexible will  of  a  naturally  obstinate 
spirit,  if  the  strenuous  resistance  of  noble 
feelings  will  not  yield  the  battle-field, 
wbere  they  must  leave  their  honour, 
yet  on  the  other  hand,  reason  counsels 
not  to  give  up  everything,  not  to  risk  the 
last  upon  the  game,  but  to  retain  as  much 
over  as  is  necessary  for  an  orderly  re- 
treat. However  highly  we  must  esteem 
courage  and  firmness  in  war,  and  how 

A      * 

ever  little  prospect  there  is  of  victory  to 
him  who  cannot  resolvB  to  seek  ifc  by  the 
exertion  of  all  his  power,  still  there  is  a 
point  beyond  which  perse^rance.  can 
only  be  termed  desperate  folly,  and  there- 
fore can  meet  with  no  approbation  ffoni 
any  critic.  In  the  most  celebrated  of  all 
battles,  that  of  Belle-AUiance,  Buona- 
parte used  his  last  reserve  in  an  effort  to 
retrieve  a  battle  which  was  past  being 
retrieved.  He  spent  his  last  farthing, 
and  fled  then  as  a  beggar  from  the 
battle-field  and  the  empire. 




Just  according  to  the  point  from  which 
our  view  is  taken,  we  may  feel  as  much  as- 
tonished at  the  extraordinary  results  of 
some  great  battles  as  at  the  want  of  re- 
sults in  others.  We  shall  dwell  for  a 
moment  on  the  nature  of  the  effect  of  a 
great  victory. 

Three  things  may  easily  be  distin- 
guished here  :  the  effect  upon  the  instru- 
ment itself,  that  is,  generals  and  their 
armies ;  the  effect  upon  the  states  inte- 
rested in  the  war;  and  the  particular 
result  of  these  effects  as  manifested  in 
the  subsequent  course  of  the  war. 

If  we  only  think  of  the  trifling  differ- 
ence which  there  usually  is  between 
victor  and  vanquished  in  killed,  wounded, 
prisoners,  and  artillery  lost  on  the  field 
of  battle  itself,  the  consequences  which 
are  developed  out  of  this  insignificant 
point  seem  often  quite  incomprehensible, 
and  yet,  usually,  everjrthing  only  happens 
quite  naturally. 

We  have  already  said  in  the  seventh 

chapter  that  the  magnitude  of  a  victory 
increases  not  merely  in  the  same  measure 
as    the  vanquished  forces    increase    in 
number,  but  in  a  higher  ratio.   The  moral 
effects  resulting  from  the  issue  of  a  great 
battle  are  greater  on  the  side  of  the  con- 
quered than  on  that  of  the  conqueror : 
they  lead  to  greater  losses  in  physical 
force,  which  then  in  turn  re-act  on  the 
moral,  and  so  they  go  on  mutually  sup- 
poiiiing  and  intensifying  each  other.     On 
this  moral  effect  we  must  therefore  lay 
special  weight.  It  takes  an  opposite  direc- 
tion on  the  one  side  from  that  on  the  other; 
as  it  undermines  the  energies  of  the  con- 
quered so  it  elevates  the  powers  and  energy 
of  the  conqueror.     But  its  chief  effect  is 
upon  the  vanquished,  because  here  it  is 
the  direct  cause  of  fresh  losses,  and  be- 
sides it  is  homogeneous  in  nature  with 
danger,  with  the  fatigues,  the  hardships, 
and  generally  with  all  those  embarrassing 
circumstances  by  which  war  is  siirrounded, 
therefore  enters  into  league  with  them 





and  increases  by  their  lielp,  whilst  with 
the  conqueror  all  these  things  are  like 
weights  which  give  a  higher  swing  to  his 
courage.  It  is  therefore  found,  that  the 
yanquisked  sinks  much  more  below  the 
original  line  of  equilibrium  than  the  con- 
queror raises  himself  above  it ;  on  this 
account,  if  we  speak  of  the  effects  of  vic- 
tory we  allude  more  particularly  to  those 
which  manifest  themselves  in  the  van- 
quished army.  If  this  effect  is  more 
powerful  in  an  important  combat  than 
in  a  smaller  one,  so  again  it  is  much  more 
powerful  in  a  great  general  action  than 
in  a  second-rate  battle.  The  great  battle 
takes  place  for  the  sake  of  itself,  for  the 
sake  of  the  victory  which  it  is  to  give, 
and  which  is  sought  for  in  it  with  the 
utmost  effort.  Here  on  this  spot,  in  this 
very  hour,  to  conquer  the  enemy  is  the 
purpose  in  which  the  plan  of  the  war 
with  all  its  threads  converges,  in  which 
all  distant  hopes,  all  dim  glimmerinj^js  of 
the  future  meet ;  fate  steps  in  before  us  to 
give  an  answer  to  the  bold  question. — This 
is  the  state  of  mental  tension  not  only  of 
the  commander  but  of  his  whole  army 
down  to  the  lowest  wagon-driver,  no  doubt 
in  decreasing  strength  but  also  in  decreas- 
ing importance. 

According  to  the  nature  of  the  thing, 
a  great  battle  has  never  at  any  time  been 
an  unprepared,  unexpected,  blind  routine 
service,  but  a  grand  act,  which,  partly  of 
itself  and  partly  from  the  aim  of  the  com- 
mander, stands  out  from  amongst  the 
mass  of  ordinary  works,  sufficiently  to 
raise  the  tension  of  all  minds  to  a 
higher  degree.  But  the  higher  this  ten- 
sion with  respect  to  the  issue,  the  more 
powerful  must  be  the  effect  of  that 

Again,  the  moral  effect  of  victory  in 
our  battles  is  greater  than  it  was  in  the 
earlier  ones  of  modem  military  h  istory.  If 
the  former  are  as  we  have  depicted  them, 
a  real  struggle  of  forces  to  the  utmost, 
then  the  sum  total  of  all  these  force,  of 
the  physical  as  well  as   the  moral,  must 

decide  more  than  certain  special  disposi- 
tions or  mere  chance. 

A  single  fault  committed  may  be  re- 
paired next  time  -^  from  good  fortune  and 
chance  we  can  hope  for  more  favour 
another  time  ;  but  the  sum  total  of  moral 
and  physical  powers  cannot  be  so  quickly 
altered,  and,  therefore,  what  the  award 
of  a  victory  has  decided  over  it  appears 
of  much  greater  importance  for  all 
futurity.  Very  probably,  of  aU  concerned 
in  battles,  whether  in  or  out  of  the  army, 
very  few  have  given  a  thought  to  this 
difference,  but  the  course  of  the  battle 
itself  impresses  on  the  minds  of  all 
present  in  it  such  a  result,  and  the 
relation  of  this  course  in  public  docu- 
ments, however  much  it  may  be  coloured 
by  twisting  particular  circumstances, 
shows  also,  more  or  less,  to  the  world 
at  large  that  the  causes  were  more  of  a 
general  than  of  a  particular  nature. 

lie  who  has  not  been  present  at  the 
loss  of  a  great  battle  will  have  difficulty 
in  forming  for  himself  a  living  or  quite 
true  idea  of  it,  and  the  abstract  notions 
of  this  or  that  small  imtoward  affair  will 
never  come  up  to  the  perfect  conception 
of  a  lost  battle.  Let  us  stop  a  moment 
at  the  picture. 

The  first  thing  which  in  an  unsuccessful 
battle  overpowers  the  imagination — and 
we  may  indeed  say,  also  the  under- 
standing— is  the  diminution  of  the  masses ; 
then  the  loss  of  ground,  which  takes 
place  always,  more  or  less,  and,  therefore, 
on  the  side  of  the  assailant  also,  if  he  ia 
not  fortunate ;  then  the  rupture  of  the 
original  formation,  the  jumbling  together 
of  divisions,  the  risks  of  retreat,  which, 
with  few  exceptions,  may  always  be  seen 
sometimes  in  a  less  sometimes  in  a  greater 
degree  ;  next  the  retreat,  the  most  part 
of  which  commences  at  night,  or,  at  least, 
goes  on  throughout  the  night.  On  this 
first  march  we  must  at  once  leave  behind 
a  nximber  of  men  completely  worn  out 
and  scattered  about,  often  just  the  bravest, 
who  have  been  foremost  in  the  fight^  who 

CHAP.  X.] 



held  out  the  longest :  the  feeling  of  being 
conquered,  which  only  seized  the  superior 
officers  on  the  battle  field,  now  spreads 
through  all  ranks,  even  down  to  the 
common  soldiers,  aggravated  by  the 
horrible  idea  of  being  obliged  to  leave  in 
the  enemy's  hands  so  many  brave  com- 
rades, who  but  amoment  since  were  of  such 
value  to  us  in  the  battle,  and  aggravated  by 
a  rising  distrust  of  the  chief  commander, 
to  whom,  more  or  less,  every  subordinate 
attributes  as  a  fault  the  fruitless  efforts 
he  has  made ;  and  this  feeling  of  being 
conquered  is  no  ideal  picture  over  which 
one  might  become  master;  it  is  an 
evident  truth  that  the  enemy  is  superior 
to  us;  a  truth  of  which  the  causes  might 
have  been  so  latent  before  that  they  were 
not  to  be  discovered,  but  which,  in  the 
issue,  comes  out  clear  and  palpable,  or 
which  was  also,  perhaps,  before  suspected, 
but  which  in  the  want  of  any  certainty, 
we  had  to  opx)ose  by  the  hope  of  chance, 
reliance  on  good  fortune,  Providence  or 
bold  attitude.  Now,  all  this  has  proved 
insufficient,  and  the  earnest  truth  meets 
U8  harsh  and  imperious. 

All  these  feelings  are  widely  different 
from  a  panic,  which  in  an  army  fortified 
by  military  virtue  never,  and  in  any  other 
only  exceptionally,  follows  the  loss  of  a 
baUle.  They  must  arise  even  in  the  best 
of  armies,  and  although  long  habituation  to 
war  and  victory  and  great  confidence  in  a 
commander  may  modify  them  a  little  here 
and  there,  they  are  never  entirely  wanting 
in  the  first  moment.  Also,  they  are  not 
the  pure  consequences  of  lost  trophies ; 
these  are  usually  lost  at  a  later  period, 
and  the  loss  of  them  does  not  become 
generally  known  so  quickly;  they  will 
therefore  not  fail  to  appear  even  when 
the  scale  turns  in  the  slowest  and  most 
gradual  manner,  and  they  constitute  that 
effect  of  a  victory  upon  which  we  can 
always  count  in  every  case. 

We  have  already  said  that  the  number 
of  trophies  intensifies  this  effect. 

How  much  now  an  army  in  this  con- 

dition, looked  at  as  an  instrument,  is 
weakened!  How  can  we  eJfpect  that 
when  weakened  to  such  a  degree  that, 
as  we  said  before,  it  finds  new  enemies 
in  all  the  ordinary  difficulties  of  mak- 
ing war,  it  will  be  able  to  re- 
cover by  fresh  efforts  what  has  been 
lost !  Before  the  battle  there  was  a 
real  or  assumed  equilibrium  between  the 
two  sides ;  this  is  lost,  and,  therefore, 
some  external  assistance  is  requisite  to 
restore  it ;  every  new  effort  without  such 
external  support  can  only  lead  to  fresh 

Thus,  therefore,  the  most  moderate 
victory  of  the  chief  army  must  tend  to 
cause  a  constant  sinking  of  the  scale, 
until  new  external  circumstances  bring 
about  a  change.  If  these  are  not  near, 
if  the  conqueror  is  an  eager  opponent, 
who,  thirsting  for  glory,  pursues  g^eat 
aims,  then  a  first-rate  commander,  and 
in  the  army  a  true  military  spirit,  hard- 
ened by  many  campaigns,  are  required, 
in  order  to  stop  the  swollen  stream  of 
prosperity  from  bursting  completely 
through,  and  to  moderate  its  course  by 
small  but  reiterated  acts  of  resistance, 
until  the  force  of  victory  has  spent  itself 
at  the  goal  of  its  career. 

And  now  as  to  the  effect  of  the  victory, 
out  of  the  army,  upon  the  nation  and 
government !  It  is  the  sudden  collapse 
of  hopes  stretched  to  the  utmost,  the 
downfall  of  all  self-reliance.  In  place  of 
these  extinct  forces,  fear,  with  its  de- 
structive properties  of  expansion,  rushes 
iiito  the  vacuum  left,  and  completes  the 
prostration.  It  is  a  real  shock  upon  the 
nerves,  which  one  of  the  two  athletes  re- 
ceives by  the  electric  spark  of  victory. 
And  that  effect,  however  different  in  its 
degrees  here  and  there,  is  never  com- 
pletely wanting.  Instead  of  every  one 
hastening  with  a  spirit  of  determination 
to  aid  in  repairing  the  disaster,  every 
one  fears  that  his  efforts  will  only  be  in 
vain,  and  stops,  hesitating  with  himself, 
when  he  should  rush    forward;   or  in 



[book  rv, 

despondency  lie  lets  liis  arm  drop,  leav- 
ing everjtlung  to  fate. 

The  consequences  which  this  effect 
of  victory  brings  forth  in  the  coiirse  of 
the  war  itself  depend  in  part  on  the  cha* 
racter  and  talent  of  the  victorious  gene- 
ral, but  more  on  the  circumstances  from 
which  the  victory  proceeds,  and  to  which 
it  leads.  Without  boldness  and  an  en- 
terprising spirit  on  the  part  of  the 
•  general,  the  most  brilliant  victory  will 
lead  to  no  great  success,  and  its  force 
exhausts  itself  all  the  sooner  on  circum- 
stances, if  these  offer  a  strong  and  stub- 
bom  opposition  to  it.  How  very  differently 
from  Daun,  Frederick  the  Great  would 
have  used  the  victory  at  Collin;  and 
what  different  consequences  France,  in 
place  of  Prussia,  might  have  given  a 
battle  of  Leuthen ! 

The  conditions  which  allow  us  to 
expect  great  results  from  a  great  victory 
>we  shall  learn  when  we  come  to  the  sub- 
jects with  which  they  are  connected; 
then  it  will  be  possible  to  explain  the 
disproportion  which  appears  at  first  sight 
between  the  magnitude  of  a  victory  and 
its  results,  and  which  is  only  too  readily 
attributed  to  a  want  of  energy  on  the 
part  of  the  conqueror.  Here,  where  we 
have  to  do  with  the  great  battle  in  itself, 
we  shall  merely  say  that  the  effects  now 
depicted  never  fafl.  to  attend  a  victory, 
that  they  mount  up  with  the  intensive 
strength  of  the  victory — mount  up  more 
the  more  the  battle  is  a  general  action, 
that  is,  the  more  the  whole  strength  of 
the  army  has  been  concentrated  in  it, 
the  more  the  whole  military  power  of 
the  nation  is  cbntained  in  that  army, 
and  the  state  in  that  militcuy  power. 

But  then  the  question  may  be  asked. 
Can  theory  accept  this  effect  of  victory 
as  absolutely  necessary? — must  it  not 
rather  endeavour  to  find  out  counter- 
acting means  capable  of  neutralising 
these  effects  ?  It  seems  quite  natural  to 
answer  this  question  in  the  affirmative ; 
but  heaven  defend  us  from  taking  that 
wrong  course  of  most  theories,  out  of 

which  is  begotten  a  mutually  devouring 
Pro  et  Contra. 

Certainly  that  effect  is  perfectly  neces- 
sary, for  it  has  its  foundation  in  the 
nature  of  things,  and  it  exists,  even  if 
we  find  means  to  struggle  against  it ;  just 
as  the  motion  of  a  cannon  ball  is  always 
in  the  direction  of  the  terrestrial,  although 
when  fired  from  east  to  west  part  of 
the  general  velocity  is  destroyed  by  this 
opx)osite  moti.on. 

All  war  supposes  human  weakness, 
and  against  that  it  is  directed. 

Therefore,  if  hereafter  in  another  place 
we  examine  what  is  to  be  done  after  the 
loss  of  a  great  battle,  if  we  bring  under 
review  the  resources  which  still  remain, 
even  in  the  most  desperate  cases,  if  we 
should  express  a  belief  in  the  possibility 
of  retrieving  all,  even  in  such  a  case ;  it 
must  not  be  supposed  we  mean  thereby 
that  the  effects  of  such  a  defeat  can  by 
degrees  be  completely  wiped  out,  for  the 
forces  and  means  used  to  repair  the  dis- 
aster might  have  been  applied  to  the  reali- 
sation of  some  positive  object;  and  this 
applies  both  to  the  moral  and  physical 

Another  question  is,  whether,  through 
the  loss  of  a  great  battle,  forces  are  not 
perhaps  roused  into  existence,  which 
otherwise  would  never  have  come  to  life. 
This  case  is  certainly  conceivable,  and 
it  is  what  has  actually  occurred  with 
many  nations.  But  to  produce  this  in- 
tensified reaction  is  beyond  the  province 
of  nulitary  art,  which  can  only  take 
account  of  it  where  it  might  be  assumed 
as  a  possibility. 

If  there  are  cases  in  which  the  fruits 
of  a  victory  appear  rather  of  a  destructive 
nature  in  consequence  of  the  reaction  of 
the  forces  which  it  had  the  effect  of  rous- 
ing into  activity — cases  which  certainly 
are  very  exceptional — then  it  must  the 
more  surely  be  granted,  that  there  is  a 
difference  in  the  effects  which  one  and  the 
same  victoiy  may  produce  according  to  the 
character  of  the  people  or  state,  which  has 
been  conquered. 

CHAP.   XI.] 





TBS    USE    OF    THE    BATTLE. 

Whateter  shape  the  conduct  of  war 
may  take  in  particular  cases,  and  what- 
ever we  may  also  have  to  admit  in  the 
sequel  as  necessary  respecting  it:  we 
have  only  to  refer  to  the  conception  of 
war  to  be  convinced  of  what  follows  : 

1.  The  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
military  force,  is  the  leading  principle  of 
war,  and  for  the  whole  chapter  of 
positive  action  thejdirect  way  to  the  aim. 

2.  This  destruction  of  the  enemy's 
force,  must  be  principally  effected  by 
means  of  battle. 

3.  Only  great  and  general  actions  can 
produce  great  results. 

4.  The  results  will  be  greatest  when 
combats  unite  themselves  in  one  great 

5.  It  is  only  in  a  great  general  action 
that  the  general-in-chief  commands  in 
person,  and  it  is  in  the  nature  of  things, 
that  he  should  place  most  confidence  in 

From  these  truths  a  double  law  follows, 
the  parts  of  which  mutually  support  each 
other;  namely,  that  the  destruction  of 
the  enemy's  military  force  is  to  be  sought 
for  principally  by  great  battles,  and  their 
results ;  and  that  the  chief  object  of  great 
battles  must  be  the  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  military  force. 

No  doubt  the  annihilation-principle  is 
to  be  found  more  or  less  in  other  means — 
granted  there  are  instances  in  which 
through  iavourable  circumstances  in  a 
minor  combat,  the  destruction  of  the 
enemy's  forces  has  been  dispropor- 
tionately great  (Maxen),  and  on  the 
other  hand  in  a  general  action,  the  taking 
or  holding    a  single  post  may  be  pre- 

dominant in  importance  as  an  object — 
but  as  a  general  rule  it  remains  a  para- 
mount truth,  that  general  actions  are  only 
fought  with  a  view  to  the  destruction  of 
the  enemy's  army,  and  that  this  destruc- 
tion can  only  be  effected  by  a  great 

The  general  action  may  therefore  be 
regarded  as  war  concentrated,  as  the 
centre  of  gravity  of  the  whole  war  or 
campaign.  As  the  sun's  rays  unite  in 
the  focus  of  the  concave  mirror  in  a 
perfect  image,  and  in  the  fulness  of 
their  heat ;  so  the  forces  and  circum- 
stances of  war,  unite  in  a  focus  in  the 
great  battle  for  one  concentrated  utmost 

The  very  assemblage  of  forces  in  one 
great  whole,  which  takes  place  more  or 
less  in  all  wars,  indicates  an  intention  to 
strike  a  decisive  blow  with  this  whole, 
either  voluntarily  as  assailant,  or  con- 
strained by  the  opposite  party  as  de- 
fender. When  this  great  blow  does 
not  follow,  then  some  modifying,  and 
retarding  motives  have  attached  them- 
selves to  the  original  motive  of  hostility, 
and  have  weakened,  altered  or  completely 
checked  the  movement.  But  also,  even 
in  this  condition  of  mutual  inaction  which 
has  been  the  key-note  ^n  so  many  wars, 
the  idea  of  a  possible  general  action 
serves  always  for  both  parties  as  a  point 
of  direction,  a  distant  focus  in  the  con- 
struction of  their  plans.  The  more  war 
is  war  in  earnest,  the  more  it  is  a 
venting  of  animosity  and  hostility,  a 
mutual  struggle  to  overpower,  so  much 
the  more  will  all  activities  join  in 
deadly  contest,  and  also  the  more  pro- 



[booe  ly. 

minent  in  importance  becomes  a  general 

In  general,  when  the  object  aimed  at  is 
of  a  great  and  positive  nature,  one  there- 
fore in  which  the  interests  of  the  enemy 
are  deeply  concerned,  the  general  action 
offers  itself  as  the  most  natural  means  ;  it 
is,  therefore,  also  the  best,  as  we  shall 
show  more  plainly  hereafter :  and,  as  a 
rule,  when  it  is  evaded  from  aversion  to 
the  great  decision,  punishment  follows. 
*  T|ie  positive  object  belongs  to  the  of- 
fensive, and  therefore  the  general  action 
is  altfo  more  particularly  his  means.  But 
without  e^^amining  the  conception  of  of- 
fensive and  defensive  more  minutely 
here,  we  must  still  observe  that,  even  for 
ft  the  defender  in  most  cases,  there  is  no 
other  effectual  means  with  which  to  meet 
the  exigencies  of  his  situation,  to  solve 
.    the  problem  presented  to  him. 

The  general  action  is  the  bloodiest 
way  of  solution.  True,  it  is  not  merely 
reciprocal  slaughter,  and  its  effect  is  more 
a  killing  of  the  enemy's  courage  than  of 
the  enemy's  soldiers,  as  we  shall  see 
more  plainly  in  the  next  chapter, — but 
still  blood  is  always  its  price,  and  slaugh- 
ter its  character  as  well  as  name ;  from 
this  the  man  in  the  general  recoils  with 

But  the  soul  of  the  man  trembles 
still  more  at  the  thought  of  the  deci- 
sion to  be  given  with  one  single  blow. 
In  one  point  of  space  and  time  all  action 
is  here  pressed  together,  and  at  such  a 
moment  there  is  stirred  up  within  us  a 
dim  feeling  as  if  in  this  narrow  space  all 
our  forces  could  not  develop  themselves 
and  come  into  activity,  as  if  we  had  al- 
ready gained  much  by  mere  time,  although 
this  time  owes  us  nothing  at  all.  This 
is  all  mere  illusion,  but  even  as  illusion 
it  is  something,  and  the  same  weakness 
which  seizes  upon  the  man  in  every  other 
momentous  decision  may  well  be  felt 
more  powerfully  by  the  general,  when  he 
must  stake  interests  of  such  enormous 
weight  upon  one  venture. 

Thus,  then,  statesmen  and  generals 
have  at  all  times  endeavoured  to  avoid 
the  decisive  battle,  seeking  either  to  at- 
tain their  aim  without  it,  or  dropping 
that  aim  imperceived.  Writers  on  his- 
tory and  theory  have  then  busied  them- 
selves to  discover  in  some  other  feature 
in  these  campaigns  and  wars  not  only  an 
equivalent  lor  the  decision  by  battle 
which  has-been  avoided,  but  even  a  higher 
art.  In  this  way,  in  the  present  age,  it 
came  very  near  to  this,  that  a  general 
action  in  the  economy  of  war  was  looked 
upon  as  an  evil,  rendered  necessaiy 
through  some  error  committed,  as  a 
morbid  paroxysm  to  which  a  regular 
prudent  system  of  war  would  never  lead: 
only  those  generals  were  to  deserve  lau- 
rels who  knew  how  to  carry  on  war  with- 
out spilling  blood,  and  the  theory  of  war 
— a  real  business  for  Brahmins — was  to 
be  specially  directed  to  teaching  this. 

Contemporary  history  has  destroyed 
this  illusion,  but  no  one  can  guarantee 
that  it  will  not  sooner  or  later  reproduce 
itself,  and  lead  those  at  the  head  of  affairs 
to  perversities  which  please  man's  weak- 
ness, and  therefore  have  the  greater  af- 
finity for  his  nature.  Perhaps,  by-and- 
bye,  Buonaparte's  campaigns  and  battles 
will  be  looked  upon  as  mere  acts  of  bar- 
barism and  stupidity,  and  we  shall  once 
more  turn  with  satisfaction  and  confidence 
to  the  dress-sword  of  obsolete  and  musty 
institutions  and  forms.  If  theoiy  gives 
a  caution  against  this,  then  it  renders  a 
real  service  to  those  who  listen  to  its 
warning  voice.  May  we  succeed  in  lend- 
ing a  hand  to  those  who  in  our  dear 
native  land  are  called  upon  to  speak  with 
authority  on  these  matters,  that  we  may 
be  their  guide  into  this  field  of  inquiry, 
and  excite  them  to  make  a  candid  exami- 
nation of  the  subject. 

Not  only  the  conception  of  war  but 
experience  also  leads  us  to  look  for  a 
great  decision  only  in  a  great  battle. 
From  time  immemorial,  only  great  vic- 
tories have  led  to  great  successes  on  the 

CHAP.   XI.] 



offensive  side  in  the  absolute  form,  on  thd 
defensive  side  in  a  manner  more  or  less 
BO.  Even  Buonaparte  would  not  have 
seen  the  day  of  Ulm,  unique  in  its  kind, 
if  he  had  shrunk  from  shedding  blood ; 
it  is  rather  to  be  regarded  as  only  a 
second  crop  from  the  victorious  events  in 
his  preceding  campaigns.  It  is  not  only 
bold,  rash,  and  presumptuous  generals 
-who  have  sought  to  complete  their  work 
by  the  great  venture  of  a  decisive  battle, 
but  also  fortunate  ones  as  well ;  and  we 
may  rest  satisfied  with  the  answer  which 
they  have  thus  given  to  this  vast  question. 

Let  us  not  hear  of  generals  who  con- 
quer without  bloodshed.  If  a  bloody 
slaughter  is  a  horrible  sight,  then  that  is 
a  ground  for  paying  more  respect  to  war, 
but  not  for  making  the  sword  we  wear 
blunter  and  blunter  by  degrees  from  feel- 
ings of  humanity,  until  some  one  steps  in 
with  one  that  is  sharp  and  lops  o&  the 
arm  from,  our  body. 

We  look  upon  a  g^eat  battle  as  a 
principal  decision,  but  certainly  not  as 
the  only  one  necessary  for  a  war  or  a 
campaign.  Instances  of  a  great  battle 
deciding  a  whole  campaign,  have  only 
been  frequent  in  modem  times,  those 
which  have  decided  a  whole  war,  belong 
to  the  class  of  rare  exceptions. 

A  decision  which  is  brought  about  by 
a  great  battle  depends  naturally  not  on 
the  battle  itself,  that  is  on  the  mass  of 
combatants  engaged  in  it,  and  on  the 
intensity  of  the  victory,  but  also  on  a 
number  of  other  relations  between  the 
military  forces  opposed  to  each  other, 
and  between  the  states  to  which  these 
forces  belong.  But  at  the  same  time 
that  the  principal  mass  of  the  force 
available  is  brought  to  the  g^eat  duel, 
a  great  decision  is  also  brought  on,  the 
extent  of  which  may  perhaps  be  foreseen 
in  many  respects,  though  not  in  all,  and 
which  although  not  the  only  one,  still  is 
the  firii  decision,  and  as  such,  has  an 
influence  on  those  which  succeed.  There- 
fore a  deliberately  planned  great  battle. 

according  to  its  relations,   is  more   or 
less,  but  always  in  some  degree,  to  be  re- 
garded as  the  leading  means  and  central 
point  of  the  whole  system.     The  more  a 
general  takes  the  field  in  the  true  spirit 
of  war  as  well  as  of  every  contest,  with 
the  feeling  and  the  idea  that  is  the  con- 
viction that  he  must  and  will  conquer, 
the  more  he  will  strive  to  throw  every 
weight  into  the  scale  in  the  first  battle, 
hope  and  strive  to  win  eveiything  by  it. 
Buonaparte  hardly  ever  ei^ered  upon  a     ^ 
war  without  thinking  of  conquering  his 
enemy   at  once  in  the  first  battle ;   and 
Frederick  the  Great,  although  in  a  more 
limited  sphere,  and  with  interests  of  less 
magnitude  at  stake,  thought  the   same     •* 
when,  at  the  head  of  a  small  army,  he 
sought  to  disengage  his  rear  from  the 
Kussians  or  the  Federal  Imperial  Army. 

The   decision   which  is  given  by  the       ^ 
great  battle,  depends,  we  have  said,  partly 
on  the  battle  itself,  that  is  on  the  number 
of  troops  engaged,    and  partly  Oti  the 
magnitude  of  the  success. 

How  the  general  may  increase  its  im- 
portance in  respect  to  the  first  point  is 
evident  in  itself,  and  we  shall  merely 
observe  that  according  to  the  importance 
of  the  great  battle,  the  nimiber  of  cases 
which  are  decided  along  with  it  inci'eases, 
and  that  therefore  generals  who,  confident 
in  themselves  have  been  lovers  of  great 
decisions,  have  always  managed  to  make 
use  of  the  greater  part  of  their  troops 
in  it  without  neglecting  on  that  account 
essential  points  elsewhere. 

As  regards  the  consequences,  or  speak- 
ing more  correctly,  the  effectiveness  of  a 
victory,  that  depends  chiefly  on  four  points: 

1 . — On  the  tactical  form  adopted  as  the 
order  of  battle. 

2. — On  the  nature  of  the  country. 

3. — On  the  relative  proportions  of  the 
three  arms. 

4.— On  the  relative  strength  of  the 
two  armies. 

A  battle  with  parallel  fronts  and  with- 
out any  action  against  a  flank  will  seldom 

■ . 



[bopk  nr. 


yield  as  ^eat  success  as  one  in  wliich 
the  defeated  army  has  been  turned^  or 
•ompelled  to  Aange  ^nt  more  or  less. 
In  a  broken  or  hilly  country  the  successes 
QX^  likewise  smaller,  because  the  power  of 
the  blow  is' everywhere  less. 

If  the  cavalry  of  the  vanquished  is  equal 
cft  superior  to  that  of  the  victor,  then 
the  effects  ot  Hie  pursuit  are  diuiinished, 
and  by  that  giieat  part  of  the  results  of 
victory  ore  bst. 

iFinally  it  is  eai^y  to  understand  that 
if  superior  numbers  are  on  the  side  of  the 
con<|ueror,  and  he  uses  his  advantage 
in  that  respect  to  turn  the  flank  of  his 
advei«ary,  or  compel  him  to  change  front, 
greater  results  will  follow  than  if  the 
conqueror  had  been  weaker  in  numbers 
Hhan  the  vanquished.  The  battle  of 
Leuthen  may  certainly  be  quoted  as  a 
practical  refutation  of  this  principle,  but 
we  beg  permission  for  once  to  say  what 
we  otherwise  do  not  like,  no  rule  mthout 
an  exeeptum* 

In  all  these  ways,  therefore,  the  com* 
mander  has  the  means  of  giving  his 
battle  a  decisive  character ;  certainly  he 
thus  exposes  himself  to  an  increased 
amount  of  danger,  but  his  whole  line  of 
action  is  subject  to  that  dynamic  law  of 
the  moral  world. 

There  is  then  nothing  in  war  wliich 
can  be  put  in  comparison  with  the  great 
battle  in  point  of  importance,  and  the 
acme  of  strategic  ability  is  displayed  in 
the  provision  of   means  for  this  great 

event  in  the  skilful  determination  of 
place  and  time,  and  direction  of  troops, 
and  in  the  good  use  of  success. 

But  it  does  not  follow  from  the  im- 
portance of  these  things  that  they  must 
be  of  a  very  complicated  and  recondite 
nature ;  all  is  here  rather  simple,  the 
art  of  combination  by  no  means  great  ; 
but  there  is  great  need  of  quickness  in 
judging  of  circumstances,  need  of  energy, 
steady  resolution,  a  youthful  spirit  of 
enterprise — heroic  qualities,  to  which  we 
shall  yet  have  often  to  refer.  There  is, 
therefore,  but  little  wanted  here  of  that 
which  can  be  taught  by  books,  and  there 
is  much  that,  if  it  can  be  taught  at  all, 
must  come  to  the  general  through  some 
other  medium  than  printer's  type. 

The  impulse  towards  a  g^eat  battle, 
the  voluntary,  sure  progress  to  it,  must 
proceed  from  a  feeling  of  innate  power 
and  a  clear  sense  of  the  necessity;  in 
other  words,  it  must  proceed  from  inborn 
courage  and  from  perceptions  sharpened 
by  contact  with  the  higher  interests  of 

Great  examples  are  the  best  teachers, 
but  it  is  certainly  a  misfortune  if  a  cloud 
of  theoretical  prejudices  comes  between, 
for  even  the  sunbeam  is  refracted  and 
tinted  by  the  clouds.  To  destroy  such 
prejudices,  which  many  a  time  rise  and 
spread  themselves  like  a  miasma,  is  an 
imperative  duty  of  theory,  for  the  misbe- 
gotten  offspring  of  human  reason  can 
also  be  in  turn  destroyed  by  pure  reason. 



Ths  more  difficult  part,  that  of  perfectly 
preparing  the  victory,  is  a  silent  service 
of  which  the  merit  belongs  to  strategy, 
and  yet  for  which  it    is  hardly  com- 

mended.   Brilliant  and  f^  of  renown  it 
appears  by  turning  to  good  account  a 
victory  gained. 
What  may  be  the  special  object  of  a 



battle,  how  it  is  connected  with  the  whole 
system  of  a  war,  whither  the  career  of 
victory  may  lead  according  to  the  nature 
of  circumstances,  where  its  culminating 
point  lies — all  these  are  things  which 
we  shall  not  enter  upon  until  hereafter. 
But  under  any  conceivable  circumstances 
the  fact  holds  good,  that  without  a  pur- 
suit no  victory  can  have  a  great  effect, 
and  that,  however  short  the  career  of 
victory  may  be,  it  must  always  lead 
beyond  the  first  steps  in  pursuit ;  and  in 
order  to  avoid  the  frequent  repetition  of 
this,  we  shall  now  dwell  for  a  moment 
on  this  necessary  supplement  of  victory 
in  general. 

The  pursuit  of  a  beaten  army  com- 
mences at  the  moment  that  army,  giving 
up  the  combat,  leaves  its  position ;  all 
previous  movements  in  one  direction 
and  another  belong  not  to  that  but  to 
the  progress  of  the  battle  itself.  Usually 
victory  at  the  moment  here  described, 
even  ^  it  is  certain,  is  still  as  yet  small 
and  weak  in  its  proportions,  and  would 
not  rank  as  an  event  of  any  great  posi- 
tive advantage  if  not  completed  by  a 
pursuit  on  the  first  day.  Then  it  is 
mostly,  as  we  have  before  said,  that  the 
trophies  which  give  substance  to  the 
victory  begin  to  be  gathered  up.  Of 
this  pursuit  we  shall  speak  in  the  next 

Usually  both  sides  come  into  action 
with  their  physical  powers  considerably 
deteriorated,  for  the  movements  imme- 
diately preceding  have  generally  the 
eharacter  of  very  urgent  circumstances. 
The  efforts  which  the  wringing  out  a 
great  combat  costs,  complete  the  exhaus- 
tion; from  this  it  comes  that  the  vic- 
torious party  is  very  little  less  disorgan- 
ised and  out  of  his  original  formation 
than  the  vanquished,  and  therefore  re- 
quires to  re-form,  to  collect  stragglers, 
and  issue  fresh  ammunition  to  those  who 
are  without.  All  these  things  place  the 
conqueror  himself  in  the  state  of  crisis 
of  which  we  have  already  spoken.  If  now 

the  defeated  force  is  only  a'  detached 
portion  of  the  enemy's  army,  or  if  it  has 
otherwise  to  expect  a  ccMUsicttrable  rein- 
forcement, then  the  conqueror  may  easily 
run  into  the  obvious  tlanger  of  hayio^ 
to  pay  dear  for  his  victory,  ibu^  this  con- 
sideration, in  such  a  case,  very  soon  puts 
an  end  to  pursuit,  or  at  least  restricts' it 
very  much.  But  even  when  a  strong 
accession  of  force  by  the  etiem/  is  not  to 
be  feared,  the  conqueror  finds  in  the 
above  circumstances  %  powerful  check  to 
the  vivacity  of  his  pursuit.  There  is  no 
reason  to  fear  that  the  victory  wili  be 
snatched  away,  but  adverse  combats  ar»  ^ 
still  possible,  and  may  diminish  the  < 
advantages  which  up  to  the  present  *' 
have  been  gained.  Moreover,  at  this 
moment  the  whole  weight  of  all  that  is 
sensuous  in  an  army,*  its  wants  and 
weaknesses,  are  dependent  on  the  will  ** 
of  the  commander.  All  the  thousands 
under  his  command  require  rest  an4  ^ 
refreshment,  and  long  to  see*  stop  put  to 
toil  and  danger  for  the  present ;  only  a 
few,  forming  an  exception,  can  see  and 
feel  beyond  the  present  moment;  it  is 
only  amongst  this  little  number  that 
there  is  sufficient  mental  vigour  to  think, 
after  what  is  absolutely  necessary  at  the 
moment  has  been  done,  upon  those  re- 
sults which  at  such  a  moment  only 
appear  to  the  rest  as  mere  embellish- 
ments of  victory — as  a  luxury  of  triumph. 
But  all  these  thousands  have  a  voice  in 
the  council  of  the  general,  for  through 
the  various  steps  of  the  military  hier- 
archy these  interests  of  the  sensuous 
creature  have  their  sure  conductor  into 
the  heart  of  the  commander.  He  him- 
self, through  mental  and  bodily  fatigue, 
is  more  or  less  weakened  in  his  natural 
activity,  and  thus  it  happens  then  that, 
mostly  from  these  causes,  purely  inci- 
dental to  human  nature,  less  is  done 
than  might  have  been  done,  and  that 
generally  what  is  done  is  to  be  ascribed 
entirely  to  the  thirst  for  ghry,  the  energy^ 
indeed  also  the  hardheiirtednest  of   tho 



[book  nr. 

general-in- chief.  It  is  only  thus  we  can 
explain  the  hesitating  manner  in  which 
many  generals  follow  up  a  victory  which 
superior  numbers  have  given  them.  The 
first  pursuit  of  the  enemy  we  limit  in  gene- 
ral to  the  extent  of  the  first  day,  including 
the  night  following  the  victory.  At  the 
end  of  that  period  the  necessity  of  rest  our- 
0elres  prescribes  a  halt  in  any  case. 

This  first  pursuit  has  different  natural 

The  first  is,  if  cavalry  alone  are 
employed;  in  that  case  it  amounts 
usually  more  to  alarming  and  watching 
than  to  pressing  the  enemy  in  reality, 
because  the  smidlest  obstacle  of  ground 
is  generally  sufiicient  to  check  the  pursuit. 
Useful  as  cavalry  may  be  against  single 
f>odies  of  broken  demoralised  troops,  stiU 
opposed  to  the  whole  it  becomes  again 
only  the  auxiliary  arm,  because  the 
troops  in  retreat  can  employ  fresh 
reserves  to  cover  the  movement,  and, 
therefore,  at  the  next  trifling  obstacle  of 
ground,  by  combining  all  arms  they 
can  make  a  stand  with  success.  The 
only  exception  to  this  is  in  the  case  of  an 
army  in  actual  flight  in  a  complete  state 
of  dissolution. 

The  second  degree  is,  if  the  pursuit  is 
made  by  a  strong  advanced  guard  com- 
posed of  aU  arms,  the  greater  part 
consisting  naturally  of  cavalry.  Such  a 
pursuit  generally  drives  the  enemy  as  far 
as  the  nearest  strong  position  for  his  rear- 
guard, or  the  next  position  affording 
space  for  his  army.  For  either  an  oppor- 
tunity is  not  usually  found  at  once,  and, 
therefore,  the  pursuit  can  be  carried 
further ;  generally,  however,  it  does  not 
extend  beyond  the  distance  of  one  or  at 
most  a  couple  of  leagues,  because  other- 
wise the  advanced  guard  would  not  feel 
itself  sufficiently  supported. 

The  third  and  most  vigorous  degree  is 
when  the  victorious  army  itsoK  continues 
its  advance  as  far  as  the  physical  powers 
can  endure.  In  this  case  the  beaten 
army  will  generally  quit  such  ordinary 

positions  as  a  country  usually  offers  on 
the  mere  show  of  an  attack,  or  of  an 
intention  to  turn  his  flank  ;  and  the  rear- 
guard will  be  still  less  likely  to  engage 
in  an  obstinate  resistance. 

In  all  three  cases  the  night,  if  it  sets  in 
before  the  conclusion  of  the  whole  act, 
usually  puts  an  end  to  it,  and  the  few 
instances  in  which  this  does  not  take 
place,  and  the  pursuit  is  continued 
throughout  the  mght,  must  be  regarded 
as  pursuits  in  an  exceptionally  vigorous 

If  we  reflect  that  in  fighting  by  night 
everything  must  be,  more  or  less,  aban- 
doned to  chance,  and  that  at  the  conclu- 
sion of  a  battle  the  regular  cohesion 
and  order  of  things  in  an  army  must 
inevitably  be  disturbed,  we  may  easily 
conceive  the  reluctance  of  both  generals 
to  carrying  on  their  business  in  the 
obscurity  of  night.  If  a  complete  dis- 
solution of  the  vanquished  army,  or  a 
rare  superiority  of  the  victorious  army  in 
military  virtue  does  not  ensure  success, 
everything  would  in  a  manner  be  given 
up  to  fate,  which  can  never  be  for  the 
interest  of  any  one,  even  of  the  most  fool- 
hardy general.  As  a  rule,  therefore, 
night  puts  an  end  to  pursuit,  even  also 
when  the  battle  has  only  been  decided 
shortly  before  its  commencement.  This 
allows  the  conquered  either  time  for  rest 
and  to  rally  immediately,  or,  if  he  retreats 
during  the  night  it  gives  him  a  march  in 
advance.  After  this  break  the  conquered 
is  decidedly  in  a  better  condition;  much 
of  that  which  had  been  thrown  into 
confusion  has  been  brought  again  into 
order,  ammunition  has  been  renewed, 
the  whole  has  been  put  into  a  fresh 
formation.  Whatever  further  encounter 
now  takes  place  with  the  enemy  is  a  new 
battle,  not  a  continuation  of  the  old,  and 
although  it  may  be  far  from  promising 
absolute  success,  still  it  is  a  fresh  combat, 
and  not  merely  a  gathering  up  of  the 
debris  by  the  victor. 

When,  therefore,   the  conqueror  can 



continue  the  pursuit  itself  throughout 
the  night,  if  only  with  a  strong  advanced 
guard  composed  of  aU  arms  of  the 
service,  the  effect  of  the  victory  is  im- 
mensely increased,  of  which  the  battles  of 
Leu  then  and  Belle  Alliance*  are  examples. 
The  whole  action  of  this  pursuit  is 
mainly  tactical,  and  we  only  dwell  upon 
it  here  in  order  to  make  plain  the 
difference  which  through  it  may  be 
produced  in  the  effect  of  a  victory. 

This  first  pursuit,  as  far  as  the  nearest 
stopping-point,  belongs  as  a  right  to  every 
conqueror,    and   is    hardly  in   any  way 
connected  with  his   further  plans    and 
combinations.     These  may  considerably 
diminish  the  positive  results  of  a  victory 
gained  with  the  main  body  of  the  army, 
but  they  cannot  mate  this  first  use  of  it 
impossible;  at  least  cases  of  that  kind,  if 
conceivable  at  all,  must  be  so  uncommon 
that  they  should  have  no    appreciable 
influence  on  theory.     And  here  certainly 
we  must  say  that  the  example  afforded 
by  modem  wars  opens  up  quite  a  new 
field  for  energy.     In  preceding  wars, 
resting  on  a  narrower  basis,  and  altoge- 
ther more  circumscribed  in  their  scope, 
there  were  many  unnecessary  conventional 
restrictionB  in  various  ways,  but  particu- 
larly in  this  point.  The  conception,  Honour 
of  Victory  seemed  to  generals  so  much  by 
far  the  chief  thing,  that  they  thought 
the  less  of  the  complete  destruction  of 
the  enemy's  military  force,  as  in  point  of 
fact  that  destruction  of  force  appeared  to 
them  only  as  one  of  the  many  means  in 
war,  not  by  any  means  as  the  principal, 
much  less  as  the   only  means;  so  that 
they  the  more  readily  put  the  sword  in 
its  sheath  the  moment  the  enemy  had 
lowered  his.     Nothing  seemed  more  na- 
tural to  them  than  to  stop  the  combat  as 
soon  as  the  decision  was  obtained,  and 
to  regard  all  further  carnage  as  unneces- 
sary cruelty.      Even  if  this  false  philo- 
sophy did  not  determine  their  resolutions 
entirely,  still  it  was  a  point  of  view  by 

•  Waterloo. 

which  representations  of  the  exhaustion 
of  all  powers,  and  physical  impossibility 
of    continuing    the    struggle,    obtained 
readier    entrance    and    greater  weight. 
Certainly  the  sparing  one's  own  instru* 
ment  of  victory  is  a  vital  question  if  wo 
only  possess  this  one,  and  foresee  that 
soon  the  time  may  arrive  when  it  will 
not  be  sufficient  for  all  that  remains  to 
be  done,  for  every  continuation  of  the 
offensive  as  a  rule  leads  ultimately  to 
that.     But  this  calculation  was  still  so 
far  false,  as  the  further  loss  of  forces  by 
a  continuance  of  the  pursuit  could  bear 
no  proportion  to  that  which  the  enemy 
must  suffer.     That  view,  therefore,  again 
could   only   exist  because    the  military 
forces  were    not    considered  the    main 
thing.     And  so  we  find  that  in  former 
wars  real  heroes  only — such  as  Charlea 
XII.,  Marlborough,  Eugene,  Frederick 
the  Great — added  a  vigorous  pursuit  to 
their  victories  when  they  were  di%ci0ive 
enough,  and  that  other  generals  usually 
contented  themselves  with  the  possession 
of  the  field  of  battle.     In  modem  times 
the  greater  energy  infused  into  the  con- 
duct of  wars  through  the  greater  import- 
ance  of  the   circumstances  from  which 
they  have  proceeded  has  thrown  down 
these  conventional  barriers  ;  the  pursuit 
has  become  an  all-important  business  for 
the   conqueror;   trophies  have   on  that 
account  multiplied  in  extent,  and  if  there 
are  cases  also  in  modem  warfare  in  which 
this  has  not  been  so,  still  they  belong  to 
the  list  of  exceptions,  and  are  to  be  ac- 
counted for  by  peculiar  circumstances. 

At  Gdrschen  and  Bautzen  nothing  but 
the  superiority  of  the  allied  cavalry  pre- 
vented a  complete  rout,  at  Gross  Beeren 
and  Dennewitz  the  ill-wiU  of  the  Crown 
Prince  of  Sweden,  at  Laon  the  enfeebled 
personal  condition  of  old  Bliicher. 

But  Borodino  is  also  an  illustration  to 
the  point  here,  and  we  cannot  resist  say- 
ing  a  few  more  words  about  it,  partly 
because  we  do  not  consider  the  circum- 
stances are  explained  simply  by  attach- 

••    ^ 



[book  IV. 

ing  blame  to  Buonaparte,  partly  because 
it  might  appear  as  if  this,  and  with  it  a 
great  number  of  similar  cases,  belonged 
to  that  class  which  we  have  designated 
as  so  extremely  rare,  cases  in  which  the 
general  relations  seize  and  fetter  the  gene- 
ral at  the  very  beginning  of  the  battle. 
French  authors  in  particular,  and  great 
admirers  of  Buonaparte  (Vaudaacourt, 
Ghambray,  Sdgur),  have  blamed  him 
decidedly  because  he  did  not  drive  the 
Bussian  army  completely  off  the  field, 
and  use  his  last  reserves  to  scatter  it, 
because  then  what  was  only  a  lost  battle 
would  have  been  a  complete  rout.  We 
should  be  obliged  to  diverge  too  far  to 
describe  circumstantially  the  mutual  situ- 
ation of  the  two  armies ;  but  this  much  is 
evident,  that  when  Buonaparte  passed  the 
Niemen  with  his  army  the  same  corps  which 
afterwards  fought  at  Borodino  numbered 
300,000  men,  of  whom  now  only  120,000 
remained,  he  might  therefore  well  be  ap- 

{irehensive  that  he  would  not  have  enough 
eft  to  march  upon  Moscow,  the  point  on 
which  everything  seemed  to  depend.  The 
victory  which  he  had  just  gained  gave 
him  nearly  a  certainty  of  taking  that 
capital,  for  that  the  Bussians  would  be 
in  a  condition  to  fight  a  second  battle 
within  eight  days  seemed  in  the  highest 
degree  improbable ;  and  in  Moscow  he 
hoped  to  fiiid  peace.  No  doubt  the  com- 
plete dispersion  of  the  Bussian  army 
would  have  made  this  peace  much  more 
certain ;  but  still  the  first  consideration 
was  to  get  to  Moscow,  that  is,  to  get  there 
with«a  force  with  which  he  should  appear 
dictator  over  the  capital,  and  through 
that  over  the  empire  and  the  government. 
The  force  which  he  brought  with  him  to 
Moscow  was  no  longer  sufficient  for  that, 
as  shown  in  the  sequel,  but  it  would  have 
been  still  less  so  if,  in  scattering  the 
Bussian  army,  he  had  scattered  his  own 
at  the  same  time.  Buonaparte  was  tho- 
roughly alive  to  all  this,  and  in  our  eyes 
he  stands  completely  justified.  But  on 
that  account  this  case  is  still  not  to  be 

reckoned  amongst  those  in  which,  through 
the  general  relations,  the  general  is  in- 
terdicted the  first  following  up  of  his 
victory,  for  there  never  was  in  his  case 
any  question  of  mere  pursuit.  The  vic« 
tory  was  decided  at  iour  o'clock  in  the 
afternoon,  but  the  Bussians  still  occupied 
the  greater  part  of  the  field  of  battle ; 
they  were  not  yet  disposed  to  give  up  the 
ground,  and  if  the  attack  had  been  re- 
newed, they  would  still  have  offered  a 
most  determined  resistance,  which  would 
have  undoubtedly  ended  in  their  complete 
defeat,  but  would  have  cost  the  conqueror 
much  further  bloodshed.  We  must  there- 
fore reckon  the  Battle  of  Borodino  as 
amongst  battles,  like  Bautzen,  left  un- 
finished. At  Bautzen  the  vanquished 
preferred  to  quit  the  field  sooner;  at 
Borodino  the  conqueror  preferred  to  con- 
tent himself  with  a  half  victory,  not  be- 
cause the  decision  appeared  doubtful,  but 
because  he  was  not  rich  enough  to  pay 
for  the  whole. 

Betuming  now  to  our  subject,  the 
deduction  from  our  reflections  in 
relation  to  the  first  stage  of  pursuit  is, 
that  the  energy  thrown  into  it  chiefly 
determines  the  value  of  the  victory ;  that 
this  pursuit  is  a  second  act  of  the  victory, 
in  many  cases  more  important  also  than 
the  first,  and  that  strategy,  whilst  here 
approaching  tactics  to  receive  from  it 
the  completed  work,  exercises  the  first 
act  of  her  authority  by  demanding  this 
completion  of  the  victory. 

But  further,  the  effects  of  victory 
are  very  seldom  found  to  stop  with  this 
first  pursuit ;  now  first  begins  the  real 
career  to  which  victory  lent  velocity. 
This  course  is  conditioned  as  we  have 
already  said,  by  other  relations  of  which 
it  is  not  yet  time  to  speak.  But  we  must 
here  mention,  what  there  is  of  a  general 
character  in  the  pursuit,  in  order  to 
avoid  repetition  when  the  subject  occurs 

In  the  further  stages  of  pursuit,  again, 
we  can  distinguish  three  degrees :    the 



simple  pursuit,  a  hard  pursuit,   and  a 
parallel  march  to  intercept. 

The  simple  following  or  purnting 
causes  the  enemy  to  continue  his  retreat, 
until  he  thinks  he  can  risk  another 
battle.  It  will  therefore  in  its  effect 
suffice  to  exhaust  the  advantages  gained, 
and  besides  that,  all  that  the  enemj  can- 
not carry  with  him,  sick,  wounded,  and 
disabled  from  fatigue,  quantities  of 
baggage,  and  carriages  of  all  kinds,  will 
fall  into  our  hands,  but  this  mere  fol- 
lowing does  not  tend  to  heighten  the 
disorder  in  the  enemy's  army,  an  effect 
which  is  produced  by  the  two  following 

If  for  instance,  instead  of  contenting 
ourselves  with  taking  up  every  day  the 
camp  the  enemy  has  just,  vacated,   oc- 
cupying just  as  much  of  the  country  as 
he  chooses  to  abandon,    we  make   our 
arrangements  so  as  every  day  to  encroach 
fiicther,  and  accordingly  with  our  advanced 
guard  organised  for  the  purpose,  attack 
his  rearguard  every  time  it  attempts  to 
halt,  then  such  a  course  will  hasten  his 
retreat,    and  consequently    tend   to  in- 
crease his  disorganisation.— This  it  will 
principally  effect  by  the    character    of 
continuous  flight,  which  his  retreat  will 
thus     assume.     Nothing     has    such    a 
depressing  influence  on  the   soldier,   as 
the  sound  of  the  enemy's  cannon  afiresh 
at  the  moment  when,   after    a    forced 
march  he  seeks  some  rest ;  if  this  ex- 
citement is  continued  from  day  to  day 
for  some  time,  it  may  lead  to  a  complete 
panic.     There  lies  in  it  a  constant  admis- 
sion of  being  obliged  to  obey  the  law  of 
the  enemy,  and  of  being  unflt  for  any 
resistance,  and  the  consciousness  of  this 
cannot  do  otherwise  than  weaken  the 
morale  of  an  army  in  a  high  degree.  The 
effect  of  pressing  the  enemy  in  this  way 
attains  a  maximum  when  it  drives  the 
enemy  to  make  night  marches.     If  the 
conqueror  scares  away  the    discomfited 
opponent  at  sunset  from  a  camp  which 
has  just  been  taken  up  either  for  the 

main  body  of  the  army,  or  for  the  rear- 
guard, the  conquered  must  either  make 
a  night  march,  or  alter  his  position  in 
the  night,  retiring  further  away,  which  is 
much  the  same  thing ;  the  victorious 
party  can  on  the  other  hand  pass  the 
night  in  quiet. 

The  arrangement  of  marches,  and  the 
choice  of  positions  depend  in  this  case 
also  upon  so  many  other  things  especially 
on  the  supplying  of  the  army,  on  strong 
natural  obstacles  in  the  country,  on  large 
towns,  etc.,  etc.,  that  it  would  be  ridiculous 
pedantry  to  attempt  to  show  by  a  geo- 
metrical analysis  how  the  pursuer,  being 
able  to  impose  his  laws  on  the  retreating 
enemy,  can  compel  him  to  march  at  night 
while  he  takes  his  rest.  But  nevertheless 
it  is  true  and  practicable  that  marches 
in  pursuit  may  be  so  planned  as  to  have 
this  tendency,  and  that  the  efficacy  of 
the  pursuit  is  very  much  enhanced  there- 
by.    If  this  is  seldom  attended  to  in  the 
execution,  it  is  because  such  a  procedure 
is  more  difficult  for  the  pursufng  army, 
than  a  regiQar    adherence  to  ordinary 
marches  in  the  day  time.     To  start  in 
good  time  in  the  morning,  to  encamp  at 
midday,  to  occupy  the  rest  of  the  day 
in  providing  for  the  ordinary  wants  of 
the  army,  and  to  use  the  night  for  repose, 
is  a  much  more  convenient  method  than 
to  regulate  one's  movements  exactly  ac- 
cording to  those  of  the  enemy,  therefore 
to  determine  nothing  till  the  last  moment, 
to  start  on  the  march,  sometimes  in  the 
morning,  sometimes  in  the  evening,  to 
be  always  for  several  hours  in  the  pre- 
sence of  the   enemy,    and    exchanging 
cannon  shots  with  him,  and^  keeping  up 
skirmishing  fire,  to  plan  manceuvres  to 
turn  him,  in  short,  to  make  the  whole 
outlay  of  tactical  means  which  such  a 
course    renders    necessary.       All    that 
naturally  bears  with    a  heavy    weight 
on    the  pursuing   army,     and   in  war, 
where  there  are  so  many  burdens  to  be 
borne,  men  are  always  inclined  to  strip 
off  those  which  do  not  seem  absolutely 



[book    IV. 

necessary.  These  observations  are  true, 
whether  applied  to  a  whole  army  or  as  in 
the  more  usual  case,  to  a  strong  advanced- 
guard.  Por  the  reasons  just  mentioned, 
this  second  method  of  pursuit,  this  con- 
tinued pressing  of  the  enemy  pursued  is 
rather  a  rare  occurrence;  even  Buonaparte 
in  his  Bussian  campaign,  1812,  practised 
it  but  little,  for  the  reasons  here  apparent, 
that  the  difficulties  and  hardships  of  this 
campaign,  without  that,  threatened  his 
army  with  destruction  before  it  could 
reach  its  object ;  on  the  other  hand  the 
French  in  their  other  campaigns  have 
distinguished  themselves  by  their  energy 
in  this  point  also. 

Lastly,  the  third  and  most  effectual 
form  of  pursuit  is,  the  parallel  march  to 
the  immediate  aim  of  the  retreat. 

Every  defeated  army  will  naturally 
have  behind  it,  at  a  greater  or  less  distance, 
some  point,  the  attainment  of  which  is 
thfr  first  object  in  view,  whether  it  be 
that  failing  in  this  its  further  retreat  might 
be  compromised,  as  in  the  case  of  a  defile, 
or  that  it  is  important  for  the  point  itself 
to  reach  it  before  the  enemy,  as  in  the  case 
of  a  great  city,  magazines,  etc.,  or,  lastly, 
that  the  army  at  this  point  will  gain  new 
powers  of  defence,  such  as  a  strong 
position,  or  junction  with  other  corps. 

Now  if  the  conqueror  directs  his  march 
on  this  point  by  a  lateral  road,  it  is 
evident  how  that  may  quicken  the  retreat 
of  the  beaten  army  in  a  destructive 
manner,  convert  it  into  hurry,  perhaps 
into  a  flight.  The  conquered  has  only 
three  ways  to  counteract  this :  the  first  is 
to  throw  himself  in  front  of  the  enemy, 
in  order  by  an  unexpected  attack  to  gain 
that  probability  of  success  which  is  lost 
to  him  in  general  from  his  position;  this 
plainly  supposes  an  enterprising  bold 
general,  and  an  excellent  army,  beaten 
but  not  utterly  defeated;  therefore,  it 
can  only  be  employed  by  a  beaten  army 
in  very  few  cases. 

The  second  way  is  hastening  the  re- 
treat ;  but  this  is  just  what  the  conqueror 

wants,  and  it  easily  leads  to  immoderate 
efforts  on  the  part  of  the  troops,  by  which 
enormous  losses  are  sustained,  in  strag- 
glers, broken  guns,  and  carriages  of  all 

The  third  way  is  to  make  a  detour, 
and  get  round  the  nearest  point  of  inter- 
ception, to  march  with  more  ease  at  a 
greater  distance  from  the  enemy,  and 
thus  to  render  the  haste  required  less 
damaging.  This  last  way  is  the  worst  of 
aU,  it  generally  turns  out  like  a  new  debt 
contracted  by  an  insolvent  debtor,  and 
leads  to  greater  embarrassment.  There 
are  cases  in  which  this  course  is  advisable ; 
others  where  there  is  nothing  else  left; 
also  instances  in  which  it  has  been  suc- 
cessful ;  but  upon  the  whole  it  is  certainly 
true  that  its  adoption  is  usually  influenced 
less  by  a  clear  persuasion  of  its  being 
the  surest  way  of  attaining  the  aim  than 
by  another  inadmissible  motive — this 
motive  is  the  dread  of  encountering  the 
enemy.  Woe  to  the  commander  who  gives 
in  to  this!  However  much  the  morale 
of  his  army  may  have  deteriorated,  and 
however  well  founded  may  be  his  appre- 
hensions of  being  at  a  disadvantage  in 
any  conflict  with  the  enemy,  the  evil  will 
only  be  made  worse  by  too  anxiously 
avoiding  every  possible  risk  of  collision. 
Buonaparte  in  1813  would  never  have 
brought  over  the  Ehine  with  him  the 
30,000  or  40,000  men  who  remained 
after  the  battle  of  Hanau,  if  he  had 
avoided  that  battle  and  tried  to  pass  the 
Bhine  at  Mannheim  or  Coblenz.  It  is 
just  by  means  of  small  combats  carefully 
prepared  and  executed,  and  in  which  the 
defeated  army  being  on  the  defensive, 
has  always  the  assistance  of  the  ground — 
it  is  just  by  these  that  the  moral  strength 
of  the  army  can  first  be  resuscitated. 

The  beneficial  effect  of  the  smaUest 
successes  is  incredible ;  but  with  most 
generals  the  adoption  of  this  plan  implies 
great  self-command.  The  other  way,  that 
of  evading  all  encounter,  appears  at  first 
so  much  easier,  that  there  is  a  natural 




preference  for  its  adoption.  It  is  therefore 
usually  just  this  system  of  evasion  which 
best  promotes  the  view  of  the  pursuevi 
and  often  ends  with  the  complete  down- 
fall of  the  pursued ;  we   must,  however, 
recollect  here    that  we  are  speaking  of 
a  whole  army,  not  of  a  single   division, 
which,  having  been  cut  off,  is  seeking  to 
join  the  main  army  by  making  a  detour  ; 
in  such  a  case  circumstances  are  different, 
and  success  is  not  uncommon.     But  there 
is  one  condition  requisite  to  the  success 
of  this  race  of  two  corps  for  an  object, 
which  is  that  a  division  of  the  pursuing 
army   should  follow  by  the  same  road 
which  the  pursued  has  taken,  in  order  to 
pick   up  stragglers,    and    keep   up   the 
impression  which  the  presence   of   the 
enemy   never  fails  to   make.      Bliicher 
neglected  this  in  his,  in  other  respects  un* 
exceptionable,  pursuit  after  Belle  Alliance. 
Such  marches  tell  upon  the  pursuer  as 
well  as  the  pursued,  and  they  are  not 
advisable  if   the   enemy's   army  rallies 
itself  upon  another    considerable    one; 
if  it  has  a  distinguished  general  at  its 
head,  and  if  its  destruction  is  not  already 
well   prepared.     But  when  this   means 

can  be  adopted,  it  acts  also  like  a  great 
mechanical  power.  The  losses  of  the 
beaten  army  from  sickness  and  fatigue 
are  on  such  a  disproportionate  scale, 
the  spirit  of  the  army  is  so  weakened 
and  lowered  by  the  constant  solicitude 
about  impending  ruin,  that  at  last  any 
thin^  like  a  well-organized  stand  is 
out  of  the  question ;  every  day  thou- 
sands of  prisoners  fall  into  the  enemy's 
hands  without  striking  a  blow.  In 
such  a  season  of  complete  good  for- 
tune, the  conqueror  need  not  hesitato 
about  dividing  his  forces  in  order  to  draw 
into  the  vortex  of  destruction  everything 
within  reach  of  his  arm^,  to  cut  off 
detachments,  to  take  fortresses  unprepared 
for  defence,  to  occupy  large  towns,  etc., 
etc.  He  may  do  anything  until  a  new 
state  of  things  arises,  and  the  more  he 
ventures  in  this  way  the  longer  will  it  be 
before  that  change  will  take  place. 

There  is  no  want  of  examples  of 
brilliant  fesults  from  grand  decisive  vic- 
tories, and  of  great  and  vigorous  pursuits 
in  the  wars  of  Buonaparte.  We  need  only 
quote  Jena,  Batisbonne,  Leipsic,  and 



In  a  lost  battle  the  power  of  an  army  is 
broken,  the  moral  to  a  greater  degree 
than  the  physical.  A  second  battle,  un- 
less fresh  favourable  circumstances  come 
into  play,  would  lead  to  a  complete  defeat, 
perhaps,  to  destruction.  This  is  a 
military  axiom.  According  to  the  usual 
course  the  retreat  is  continued  up  to 
that  point  where  the  equilibrium  of  forces 
is  restored,  either  by  reinforcements,  or 

by  the  protection  of  strong  fortresses,  or 
by  great  divisions  of  the  country,  or  by 
a  separation  of  the  enemy's  force.  The 
magnitude  of  the  losses  sustained,  the 
extent  of  the  defeat,  but  still  more 
the  character  of  the  enemy,  will  bring 
nearer  or  put  off  the  instant  of  this 
equilibrium.  How  many  instances  may 
be  found  of  a  beaten  army  rallied  again 
at  a  short  distance,  without  its  oiroum- 


ON  WAR.. 

[book  nr. 

stances  hamng  altered  In  any  way 
since  the  battle.  The  c^se  of  this 
may  be  traced  to  the  moral  deficiency 
of  the  adversary,  or  to  the  prepon- 
derance gained  in  the  battle  not  hav- 
ing been  sufficient  to  make  a  lasting 

.  To  profit  by  this  weakness  or  mistake 
of  the  enemy,  iu)t  to  yield  one  inch 
breadth  more  than  tke  pressure  of 
circumstances  demands,  but  above  all 
tilings,  in  order  to  keep  tip  the  moral 
S)rces  to  as/idvantageous  a  point  as  pos- 
sible; a  slow  retreat,  ofiPering  incessant 
resistance,  ttnd  bold  courageous  counter- 
strokes,  whenever  the  enemy  seeks  to 
gain  any  excessive  advantages,  are  abso- 
lutely necessary.  Eetreats  of  great 
generals  and  of  armies  inured  to  war 
have  always  resembled  the  retreat  of  a 
wounded  lion,  and  such  if,  imdoubtedly, 
also  the  best  theory. 

It  is  true  that  at  the  moment  of  quitting 
a  dangerous  position  we  have  often  seen 
trifling  formalities  obsorvad  which  caused 
a  waste  of  time,  and  were,  therefore, 
attended  with  danger,  whilst  in  such 
cases  everything  depends  on  getting  out 
of  the  place  speedily.  Practised  generals 
reckon  this  maxim  a  very  important 
one.  But  such  cases  must  not  be  con- 
founded with  a  general  retreat  after  a 
lost  battle.  Whoever  then  thinks  by  a 
few  rapid  marches  to  gain  a  staj*t,  and 
more  easily  to  recover  a  firm  standing, 
commits  a  great  error.  The  first  move- 
ments should  be  as  small  as  possible, 
and  it  is  a  maxim  in  general  not  to  suffer 
ourselves  to  be  dictated  to  by  the  enemy. 
This  maxim  cannot  be  followed  without 
bloody  combats  with  the  enemy  at  our 
heels,  but  the  maxim  is  worth  the 
sacrifice ;  without  it  we  get  into  an 
accelerated  pace  which  soon  turns  into 
a  headlong  rush,  and  costs  merely  in 
stragglers  more  ^nen  than  rear-g^ard 
oombats  would  have  cost,  and  besides 
that  extinguishes  the  last  remnants  of 
courageous  spirit. 

A  strong  rear  guard  composed  of 
picked  troops,  commanded  by  the  bravest 
Mineral,  and  supported  by  the  whole 
army  at  critical  moments,  a  careful 
utilisation  of  ground,  strong  ambuscades 
wherever  the  boldness  of  the  enemy's 
advanced  guard,  and  the  ground,  afford 
opportunity;  in  short,  the  preparation 
and  the  system  of  regular  small  battles, — 
these  are  the  means  of  following  this 

The  difficulties  of  a  retreat  are  natu- 
rally greater  or  less  according  as  the 
battle  has  been  fought  under  more  or 
less  favourable  circumstances,  and  accord- 
ing as  it  has  been  more  or  less  obstinately 
contested.  The  battle  of  Jena  and  Belle- 
Alliance  show  how  impossible  anything 
like  a  regular  retreat  may  become,  if  the 
last  man  is  used  up  against  a  powerful 

Now  and  again  it  has  been  suggested 
(Lloyd  Billow)  to  divide  for  the  purpose  of 
retreating,  therefore  to  retreat  in  separate 
divisions  or  even  eccentrically.  Such  a 
separation  as  is  made  merely  for  con- 
venience, and  along  with  which  con- 
centrated action  continues  possible  and 
is  kept  in  view,  is  not  what  we  now 
refer  to  :  any  other  kind  is  extremely 
dangerous,  contrary  to  the  nature  of  the 
thing,  and  therefore  a  great  error.  Every 
lost  battle  is  a  principle  of  weakness  and 
disorganisation  ;  and  the  first  and  imme- 
diate desideratum  is  to  concentrate,  and  in 
concentration  to  recover  order,  courage, 
and  confidence.  The  idea  of  harassing  the 
enemy  by  separate  corps  on  both  flanks 
at  the  moment  when  he  is  following  up 
his  victory,  is  a  perfect  anomaly;  a 
faint-hearted  pedant  might  be  overawed 
by  his  enemy  in  that  manner,  and  for 
such  a  case  it  may  answer ;  but  where 
we  are  not  sure  of  this  failing  in  our 
opponent  it  is  better  let  alone.  If  the 
strategic  relations  after  a  battle  require 
that  we  should  cover  ourselves  right 
and  left  by  detached  corps,  so  much 
must  be  done,  as  from  circumstances  is 

CHA.P.  XIV.] 



nnavoidable,  but  this  fraotioning  must 
always  be  regarded  aa  an  evil,  an4  we 
are  seldom  in  a  state  to  commence  ii 
the  day  after  the  battle  itself. 

If  Frederick  the  Qreat  after  the  battle 
of  Oollin,  and  the  raising  of  the  siege  of 
Prague  retreated  in  three  columns,  that 
was  done  not  out  of  choice,  but  because 
the  position  of  his  forces,  and  the  neces- 
sity of  covering  Saxony,  left  him  no 
alternative.  Buonaparte  after  the  battle 

of  Brienne,  senlj,  Marmont  back  to  the 
Aube,  whilst  he  himself  passed  the  Seine, 
and  turned  towards  Troyes;  but  that 
this  did  not  end  in  disaster,  was  solely 
owing  to  the  circumstance  that  the  Allies, 
instead  of  pursuing,  divided  their  forces 
in  lika  manner,  turned  with  the  one  part 
(Blucher)  towards  the  Marne,  while 
with  ti(e  other  (Schwartzenberg),  from 
fear  of  being  too  weak,  they  skdrano«d 
quite  slowly. 



The  manner  of  conducting  a  combat  at 
night,  and  what  concerns  the  details  of 
its  course,  is  a  tactical  subject ;  we  only 
examine  it  here  so  far  as  in  its  totality 
it  appears  as  a  special  strategic  means. 

FundamentaUy  every  night  attack  is 
only  a  more  vehement  form  of  surprise. 
Now  at  the  first  look  of  the  thing  such 
an  attack  appears  quite  pre-eminently 
advantageous,  for  we  suppose  the  enemy 
to  be  taken  by  sjirprise,  the  assailant 
naturally  to  be  prepared  for  every  thing 
which  can  happen.  What  an  inequality ! 
Imagination  paints  to  itself  a  picture  of 
the  most  complete  confusion  on  the  one 
side,  and  on  the  other  side  the  assailant 
only  occupied  in  reaping  the  fruits  of 
this  state  of  things.  Hence  the  constant 
creation  of  schemes  for  night  attacks 
by  those  who  have  not  to  lead  them, 
and  have  no  responsibility,  whilst  these 
attacks  seldom  take  place  in  reality. 

These  ideal  schemes  are  all  based  on 
the  hypothesis  that  the  assailant  knows 
the  arrangements  of  the  defender  because 
they  have  been  made  and  announced  be- 

forehand ;  and  could  not  escape  notice  in 
his  reconnaissanoas,  and  enquiries ;  that 
on  the  other  hand  the  measures  of  the 
assailant,  being  only  taken  at  the  moment 
of  execution,  cannot  be  known  to  the 
enemy.  But  the  last  of  these  is  not  always 
quite  the  case,  and  still  less  is  the 
first.  If  we  are  not  so  near  the  enemy 
as  to  have  him  completely  imder  our 
eye,  as  the  Austrians  had  Frederick  the 
Great  before  the  battle  of  Hochkirch,. 
then  all  that  we  know  of  his  position 
must  always  be  imperfect,  as  it  is 
obtained  by  reconnaissances,  patrols, 
information  from  prisoners,  and  spies, 
sources  on  which  no  firm  reliance  can 
be  placed  because  intelligence  thus 
obtained  is  always  more  or  less  of  an 
old  date,  and  the  position  of  the  enemy 
may  have  been  altered  in  the  mean 
time.  Moreover,  with  the  tactics  and 
mode  of  encampment  of  former  times  it 
was  much  easier  than  it  is  now  to 
examine  the  position  of  the  enemy.  A 
line  of  tents  is  much  easier  to  disting^iish 
than  a  line  of  huts  or  a  bivouac  ;  and  an 




[book  nr. 

encampment  on  a  line  of  front,  fully  and 
regularly  drawn  out,  also  easier  than 
one  of  diyisions  formed  in  columns, 
tlie  mode  often  used  at  present.  We 
may  have  tho  ground  on  which  a  division 
l)ivouacs  in  that  manner  completely  under 
■our  eye,  and  yet  not  be  able  to  arrive 
at  any  accurate  idea. 

But  ^e  position  again  is  not  all  that 
w«  want  to  know ;  the  measures  which  the 
•defender  may  take  in  the  course  of  the 
combat  are  just  as  important,  and  do  not 
by  any  means  consist  in  mere  random 
shots.  These  measures  also  make  night 
attacks  more  difficult  in  modem  wars 
than  formerly,  because  they  have  in  these 
wars  an  advantage  over  those  already 
taken.  In  our  combats  the  position  of  the 
defender  is  more  temporary  than  defin- 
itive, and  on  that  accovnt  the  defender 
in  our  wars  is  better  able  to  surprise  his 
adversary  with  unexpected  blows,  than 
he  could  formerly. 

Therefore  what  the  assailant  knows  of 
the  defensive  previous  to  a  night  attack, 
is  seldom  or  never  sufficient  to  supply  the 
want  of  direct  observation. 

But  the  defender  has  on  his  side  an- 
other small  advantage  as  well,  which  is 
that  he  is  more  at  home  than  the  assail- 
ant, on  the  g^und  which  forms  his  posi- 
tion, and  therefore,  like  the  inhabitant  of 
a  room,  will  find  his  way  about  it  in 
the  dark  with  more  ease  than  a  stranger. 
He  knows  better  where  to  find  each 
part  of  his  force,  and  therefore  can  more 
readily  get  at  it  than  is  the  case  with 
the  assailant. 

From  this  it  follows,  that  the  assailant 
in  a  combat  at  night  wants  his  eyes 
just  as  much  as  the  defender,  and  that 
therefore,  only  particular  reasons  can 
Qiake  a  night  attack  advisable. 

Now  these  reasons  arise  mostly  in 
connection  with  subordinate  parts  of  an 
army,  rarely  with  the  army  itself ;  hence 
it  follows  that  a  night  attack  also  as  a 
rule  can  only  take  place  with  secondary 
combats,  and  seldom  with  g^eat  battles. 

We  may  attack  a  portion  of  the  enemy's 
army  with  a  very  superior  force,  con- 
sequently enveloping  it  with  a  view 
either  to  take  the  whole,  or  to  inflict 
very  severe  loss  on  it  by  an  unequal 
combat,  provided  that  other  circum- 
stances are  in  our  favour.  But  such  a 
scheme  can  never  succeed  except  by  a 
gpreat  surprise,  because  no  fractional  part 
of  the  enemy's  army  would  engage  in 
such  an  unequal  combat,  but  would 
retire  instead.  But  a  surprise  on  an 
important  scale  except  in  rare  instances 
in  a  very  close  country,  can  only  be 
effected  at  night.  If  therefore  we  wish 
to  gain  such  an  advantage  as  this  from 
the  faulty  disposition  of  a  portion  of  the 
enemy's  army,  then  we  must  make  use 
of  the  night,  at  all  events,  to  finish  the 
preliminary  part  even  if  the  combat 
itself  should  not  open  till  towards  day- 
break. This  is  therefore  what  takes 
place  in  all  the  little  enterprises  by  night 
against  outposts,  and  other  small  bodies, 
the  main  point  being  invariably  through 
superior  numbers,  and  getting  round  his 
position,  to  entangle  him  unexpectedly 
in  such  a  disadvantageous  combat,  that 
he  cannot  disengage  himself  without 
great  loss. 

The  larger  the  corps  attacked,  the 
more  difficult  the  xmdertaking,  because 
a  strong  corps  has  greater  resources 
within  itself  to  maintain  the  fight  long 
enough  for  help  to  arrive. 

On  that  account  the  whole  of  the  enemy's 
army  can  never  in  ordinary  cases  be  the 
object  of  such  an  attack,  for  although  it 
has  no  assistance  to  expect  from  any 
quarter  outside  itself,  still,  it  contains 
within  itself  sufficient  means  of  repelling 
attacks  from  several  sides  particularly  in 
our  day,  when  every  one  from  the  com- 
mencement is  prepared  for  this  very 
usual  form  of  attack.  Whether  the 
enemy  can  attack  us  on  several  sides 
with  success,  depends  generally  on  con- 
ditions quite  different  from  that  of  its 
being  done  unexpectedly ;  without  enter- 

CHAP,  xrv.] 



ing  here  into  the  nature  of  ^ese  con« 
ditions,  we  confine  ourselTes  to  otserring, 
that  with  turning  an  enemy,  great  results, 
but  also  great  dangers  are  conn^cteil; 
that  therefore,  if  we  set  aside  special 
circumstances,,  nothing  justifies  it  but 
a  great  superiority,  just  such  as  we  should 
use  against  a  fractional  part  of  the 
enemy's  army. 

But  the  turning  and  surrounding  a 
small  corps  of  the  enemy,  and  particularly 
in  the  darkness  of  night,  is  also  more 
practicable  for  this  reason,  that  whatever 
we  stake  upon  it,  and  however  superior 
the  force  used  may  be,  still  probably  it 
constitutes  only  a  limited  portion  of  our 
army,  and  we  can  sooner  stake  that  than 
the  whole  on  the  risk  of  a  great  venture. 
Besides,  the  greater  part  or  perhaps  the 
whole  serves  as  a  support  and  rallying 
point  for  the  portion  risked,  which  again 
very  much  diminishes  the  danger  of  the 

Not  only  the  risk,  but  the  dif&culty  of 
execution  as  well  confines  night  enter- 
prises to  small  bodies.  As  surprise  is 
the  real  sense  of  them  so  also  stealing 
through  is  the  chief  condition  of  execu- 
tion :  but  this  is  more  easily  done  with 
small  bodies  than  with  large,  and  for  the 
columns  of  a  whole  army  is  seldom  practi- 
cable. For  this  reason  such  enterprises 
are  in  general  only  directed  against 
single  outposts,  and  can  only  be  feasible 
against  greater  corps  if  they  are  without 
sufficient  outposts,  like  Frederick  the 
Great  at  Hochkirch.  This  will  happen 
seldomer  in  future  to  armies  themselves 
than  to  minor  divisions. 

In  recent  times,  when  war  has  been 
carried  on  with  so  much  more  rapidity 
and  vigour,  it  has  in  consequence  often 
happened  certainly  that  armies  have 
encamped  veiy  close  to  each  other,  with- 
out having  a  very  strong  system  of  out- 
posts, because  those  circumstances  have 
generally  occurred  just  at  the  crisis 
which  precedes  a  g^eat  decision.  But 
then    at  such  times    the   readiness-  for 

battle  on  both  sides  i^  als<)  more  perfect : 
on  the  other  hand,  in  former  wars  it  was 
a  frequent  practice  for  armies  to  take  up 
camps  in  sight  of  each  other,  when  they 
had  no  other  lobject  but  that  of  mutually 
holding  each  other  in  check,  consequently 
for  a  longer  period.  How  often  Frederick 
the  Gh'eat  stood  for  weeks  so  near  to  the  * 
Austrians,  that  the  two  might  have  ex- 
changed cannon  shots  with  each  other. 

But  these  practices,  certainly  more  fa- 
vourable to  night  attacks,  have  been  dis- 
continued in  later  wars ;  'and  armies  being 
now  no  longer  in  regard  to  subsistence 
and  requirements  for  encampment,  such 
independent  bodies  complete  in  them- 
selves, find  it  necessary  to  keep  usually  a 
day's  march  between  themselve»  and 
enemy.  If  we  now  keep  in  view  specially 
the  night  attaqk  of  an  army,  it  follows 
that  sufficient  motives  for  it  can  seldom 
occur,  and  that  they  fall  under  one  or 
other  of  the  following  classes. 

1.  An  unusual  degree  of  carelessness 
or  audacity  which  very  rarely  occurs, 
and  when  it  does  is  compensated  for  by 
a  great  superiority  in  moral  force. 

2.  A  panic  in  the  enemy's  army,  or 
generally  such  a  degree  of  superiority 
in  moral  force  on  our  side,  that  this  is 
sufficient  to  supply  the  place  of  guid- 
ance in  action. 

3.  Cutting  through  an  enemy's  army  of 
superior  force,  which  keeps  us  enveloped, 
because  in  this  all  depends  on  surprise, 
and  the  object  of  merely  making  a  passage 
by  force,  allows  a  much  greater  concen- 
tration of  forces. 

4.  Finally,  in  desperate  cases,  when  our 
forces  have  such  a  disproportion  to  the 
enemy's,  that  we  see  no  possibility  of 
success,  except  through  extraordinary 

But  in  all  these  cases  there  is  still  the 
condition  that  the  enemy's  army  is  under 
our  eyes,  and  protected  by  no  advanced 

As  for  the  rest,  most  night  combats 
are  so  conducted  as  to  end  with  day  light. 

164  ^   our  TTAB.  [book  iv. 

BO  that  only  the  approach,  and  the  first  his  adyersary ;    and  combats  of  this  des- 

attack  are  made  under  cover  of  darkneBs,  cription  which  do  not  commence  until  day- 

because  the  assailant  ib  that  manner  can  break,  in  which  the  night  therefore  is 

better  profit  by  the  fonsequences  of  the  oaly  made  use  of  to  approach,  are  not 

st&te  of  dbnAiBion  into  which  he  throws  to  be  counted  as  night  combats. 


ON   WAR. 

VOL.  II. 



XX.  A. — Defence  of  Swamps 14^ 

B, — Inundations      ..............  147 

XXI.  Defence  of  Forests 160 

XXII.  The  Cordon 161 

XXIII.  Key  of  the  Country 164 

XXIY.  Operating  against  a  Flank 167 

XXV.  Retreat  into  the  Interior  of  the  Country 164 

XXVI.  Arming  the  Nation 173 

XXVII.  Defence  ofa  Theatre  of  War 178 

XXVIII.  Defence  ofa  Theatre  of  War  (coM^mKtfrf) 181 

XXIX.  Defence  of  a  Theatre  of  War  rronfmu^) — Successive  Resistance 191 

XXX.  Defence  ofa  Theatre  of  War  (conttntted) — When  no  Decision  is  sought  for        .        .        .  193 

ON   WAR. 




We  shall  consider  military  forces  : — 

1.  As  regards  their  numerical  strength 
and  organisation. 

2.  In  their  state  independent  of  fight- 

3.  In  respect  of  their  maintenance; 
and,  lastly y 

4.  In  their  general  relations  to  country 
and  ground. 

Thus  we  shall  devote  this  book  to  the 
consideration  of  things  appertaining  to 

an  army,  which  only  come  under  the 
head  of  necessary  conditions  of  fighting ^ 
but  do  not  constitute  the  fight  itself. 
They  stand  in  more  or  less  dose  connec- 
tion with  and  react  upon  the  fighting, 
and  therefore,  in  considering  the  appli- 
cation of  the  combat  they  must  often 
appear ;  but  we  must  first  consider  each 
by  itself,  as  a  whole,  in  its  essence  and 

CHAPTER    11. 


Tbe  nature  of  the  things  does  not  allow 
of  a  completely  satisfactory  definition  of 
these  three  factors,  denoting  respectively, 
space,  mass,  and  time  in  war ;  but  that 
yoL.  II. 

we  may  not  sometimes  be  quite  misim- 
derstood,  we  must  try  to  make  somewhat 
plainer  the  usual  meaning  of  these  terms, 
to  which  we  shall  in  most  cases  adhere. 



[book  v. 

1.— Theatre  of  War. 

This  term  denotes  properly  sucli  a  por- 
tion of  the  space  over  which  war  prevails 
as  has  its  boundaries  protectedi  and  thus 
possesses  a  kind  of  independence.     This 
protection  may  consist  in  fortresses,  or 
important  natural  obstacles  presented  by 
the  country^  or  even  in  its  being  sepa- 
rated  by  a  considerable   distance   from 
the  rest  of  the  space  embraced  in  the  war. 
— Such  a  portion  is  not  a  mere  piece  of 
the  whole,  but  a  small  whole  complete 
in  itself;  and  consequently  it  is  more  or 
less  in  such  a  condition  that  changes 
which  take  place  at  other  points  in  the 
seat  of  war  have  only  an  indirect  and  no 
direct  influence   upon  it.     To  give   an 
adequate  idea  of  this,  we  may  suppose 
that  on  this  portion  an  advance  is  made, 
whilst  in   another  quarter  ^   retreat  is 
taking  place,  or  that  upon  the  one  an 
army  is   acting   defensively,   whilst    an 
offensive  is  being  carried   on   upon   the 
other.     Such  a  clearly  defined  idea  as 
this  is  not  capable  of  universal  applica- 
tion ;  it  is  here  used  merely  to  indicate 
the  line  of  distinction. 

2. — Army. 

With  the  assistance  of  the  conception 
of  a  Theatre  of  War,  it  is  very  easy  to 
say  what  an  Army  is :  it  is,  in  point  of 
fact,  the  mass  of  troops  in  the  same 
Theatre  of  War.  But  this  plainly  does 
not  include  all  that  is  meant  by  the  term 
in  its  common  usage.  BlUcher  and  Wel- 
lington commanded  each  a  separate  army 
in  1815,  although  the  two  were  in  the 
same  Theatre  of  War.  The  chief  com- 
mand is,  therefore,  another  distinguish- 
ing sign  for  the  conception  of  an  Army. 
At  the  same  time  this  sign  is  very  nearly 
allied  to  the  preceding,  for  where  things 
are  well  organised,  there  should  only 
exist  one  supreme  command  in  a  Theatre 
of  War,  and  the  commander-in-chief  in 
a  particular  Theatre  of  War  should  al- 

ways have  a  proportionate  degree  of  in- 

The  mere  absolute  numerical  strength 
of  a  body  of  troops  is  less  decisive  on  the 
subject  than  might  at  flrst  appear.  For 
where  several  Armies  are  acting  under 
one  command,  and  upon  one  and  the 
same  Theatre  of  War,  they  are  called 
Armies,  not  by  reason  of  their  strength, 
but  from  the  relations  antecedent  to  the 
war  (1813,  the  Silesian  Army,  the  Army 
of  the  North,  etc.),  and  ^though  we 
should  divide  a  great  mass  of  troops  in- 
tended to  remain  in  the  same  Theatre  into 
corps,  we  should  never  divide  them  into 
Armies,  at  least,  such  a  division  woidd 
be  contrary  to  what  seems  to  be  the  mean- 
ing which  is  universally  attached  to  the 
term.  On  the  other  hand,  it  would  cer- 
tainly be  pedantry  to  apply  the  term 
Army  to  each  band  of  irreg^ar  troops 
acting  independently  in  a  remote  pro- 
vince  :  still  we  must  not  leave  unnoticed 
that  it  surprises  no  one  when  the  Army 
of  the  Yendeans  in  the  Bevolutionary 
War  is  spoken  of,  and  yet  it  was  not 
much  stronger. 

The  conceptions  of  Army  and  Theatre 
of  War  therefore,  as  a  rule,  go  together, 
and  mutually  include  each  other. 

8. — Campaign, 

Although  the  sum  of  all  military  events 
which  happen  in  all  the  Theatres  of  War 
in  one  year  is  often  called  a  Campaign, 
still,  however,  it  is  more  usual  and  more 
exact  to  understand  by  the  term  the 
events  in  one  single  Theatre  of  War.  But 
it  is  worse  still  to  connect  the  notion  of  a 
Campaign  with  the  period  of  one  year, 
for  wars  no  longer  divide  themselves 
naturally  into  Campaigns  of  a  year's 
duration  by  fixed  and  long  periods  in 
winter  quarters.  As,  however,  the  events 
in  a  Theatre  of  War  of  themselves  form 
certain  g^eat  chapters — if,  for  instance, 
the  direct  effects  of  some  more  or  less 
great  catastrophe  cease,  and  new  com- 

CHAP,  ni.] 



binations  begin  to  develop  themselves — 
therefore  these  natural  subdivisions  must 
be  taken  into  consideration  in  order  to 
allot  to  each  year( Campaign)  its  complete 
share  of  events.  No  one  would  make  the 
Campaign  of  1812  terminate  at  Memel, 
where  the  armies  were  on  thelst  January, 
and  transfer  the  further  retreat  of  the 
French  until  they  recrossed  the  Elbe  to 
the  campaign  of  1813,  as  that  further 

retreat  was  plainly  only  a  part  of  the 
whole  retreat  from  Moscow. 

That  we  cannot  give  these  conceptions 
any  greater  degree  of  distinctness  is  of 
no  consequence,  because  they  cannot  be 
used  as  philosophical  definitions  for  the 
basis  of  any  kind  of  propositions.  They 
only  serve  to  give  a  little  more  clear- 
ness and  precision  to  the  language  we 



In  the  eighth  chapter  of  the  third  book 
we  have  spoken  of  the  value  of  superior 
numbers  in  battles,  from  which  follows 
as  a  consequence  the  superiority  of  num- 
bers in  general  in  strategy.  So  far  the 
importance  of  the  relations  of  power  is 
established:  we  shall  now  add  a  few 
more  detailed  considerations  on  the  sub- 

An  unbiassed  examination  of  modem 
military  history  leads  to  the  conviction 
that  the  superiority  in  numbers  becomes 
every  day  more  decisive;  the  principle 
of  assembling  the  greatest  possible  num- 
bers for  a  decisive  battle  may  therefore 
be  regarded  as  more  important  than  ever. 

Courage  and  the  spirit  of  an  army 
have,  in  all  ages,  multiplied  its  physical 
powers,  and  wiU  continue  to  do  so  equally 
in  future;  but  we  find  also  that  at  certain 
periods  in  history  a  superiority  in  the 
organisation  and  equipment  of  an  army 
has  g^ven  a  g^eat  moral  preponderance  ; 
we  find  that  at  other  periods  a  great  su- 
periority in  mobility  had  a  like  efiect;  at 
one  time  we  see  a  new  system  of  tactics 
brought  to  light ;  at  another  we  see  the 

art  of  war  developing  itself  in  an  effort 
to  make  a  skilful  use  of  ground  on  great 
general  principles,  and  by  such  means 
here  and  there  we  find  one  general  gaining 
great  advantages  over  another ;  but  even 
this  tendency  has  disappeared,  and  wars 
now  go  on  in  a  simpler  and  more  natural 
manner. — ^If,  divesting  ourselves  of  any 
preconceived  notions,  we  look  at  the  ex- 
periences of  recent  wars,  we  must  admit 
that  there  are  but  little  traces  of  any  of 
the  above  influences,  either  throughout 
any  whole  campaign,  or  in  engagements 
of  a  decisive  character — that  is,  the  great 
battle,  respecting  which  term  we  refer  to 
the  second  chapter  of  the  preceding  book. 
Armies  are  in  our  days  so  much  on  a 
par  in  regard  to  arms,  equipment,  and 
drill,  that  there  is  no  very  notable  dif- 
ference between  the  best  and  the  worst 
in  these  things.  A  difference  may  still 
be  observed,  resulting  from  the  superior 
instruction  of  the  scientific  corps,  but  in 
general  it  only  amounts  to  this,  that  one 
is  the  inventor  and  introducer  of  im- 
proved appliances,  which  the  other  im- 
mediately   imitates.     Even    the    subor- 


[book  ▼. 

dinate  generals,  leaders  of  corps  and 
divisions,  in  all  that  comes  within  the 
scope  of  their  sphere,  have  in  general 
everywhere  the  same  ideas  and  methods, 
so  that,  except  the  talent  of  the  com- 
mander-in-chief—  a  thing  entirely  de- 
pendent on  chance,  and  not  bearing  a 
constant  relation  to  the  standard  of  edu- 
cation amongst  the  people  and  the  army — 
there  is  nothing  now  but  habituation  to 
war  which  can  give  one  army  a  decided 
Buperiority  over  another.  The  nearer  we 
approach  to  a  state  of  equality  in  all 
these  things,  the  more  decisive  becomes 
the  relation  in  point  of  numbers. 

The  character  of  modern  battles  is  the 
result  of  this  state  of  equality.  Take 
for  instance  the  battle  of  Borodino, 
where  the  first  army  in  the  world,  the 
French,  measured  its  strength  with  the 
Eussian,  which,  in  mtmy  parts  of  its 
organisation,  and  in  the  education  of  its 
special  branches,  might  be  considered 
the  furthest  behindhand.  In  the  whole 
battle  there  is  not  one  single  trace  of 
superior  art  or  intelligence,  it  is  a  mere 
trial  of  strength  between  the  respective 
armies  throughout;  and  as  they  were 
nearly  equal  in  that  respect,  the  result 
could  not  be  otherwise  than  a  gradual 
turn  of  the  scale  in  favour  of  that  side 
where  there  was  the  greatest  energy  on 
the  part  of  the  commander,  and  the  most 
experience  in  war  on  the  part  of  the 
troops.  We  have  taken  this  battle  as  an 
illustration,  because  in  it  there  was  an 
equality  in  the  numbers  on  each  side 
such  as  is  rarely  to  be  found. 

We  do  not  maintain  that  all  battles 
exactly  resemble  this,  but  it  shows  the 
dominant  tone  of  most  of  them. 

In  a  battle  in  which  the  forces  try 
their  strength  on  each  other  so  leisurely 
and  methodically,  an  excess  of  force  on 
one  side  must  make  the  result  in  its 
favour  much  more  certain.  And  it  is  a 
fact  thai  we  may  search  modem  military 
history  in  vain  for  a  battle  in  which  an 
army  has  beaten  another  double  its  own 

strength,  an  occurrence  by  no  means  un- 
common in  former  times.  Buonaparte, 
the  greatest  general  of  modem  times,  in 
all  his  great  victorious  battles — with  one 
exception,  that  of  Dresden,  1813 — had 
managed  to  assemble  an  army  superior 
in  numbers,  or  at  least  very  little  inferior, 
to  that  of  his  opponent,  and  when  it  was 
impossible  for  lum  to  do  so,  as  at  Leipsic, 
Brienne,  Laon,  and  Belle-Alliance,  he 
was  beaten. 

The  absolute  strength  is  in  strategy 
generally  a  given  quantity,  which  the 
commander  cannot  alter.  But  from  this 
it  by  no  moans  follows  that  it  is  impos- 
sible to  carry  on  a  war  with  a  decidedly 
inferior  force.  War  is  not  always  a  volun- 
tary act  of  state  policy,  and  least  of  all 
is  it  so  when  the  forces  are  very  unequal: 
consequently,  any  relation  of  forces  is 
imaginable  in  war,  and  it  would  be  a 
strange  theory  of  war  which  would  wish 
to  give  up  its  office  just  where  it  is  most 

However  desirable  theory  may  consider 
a  proportionate  force,  still  it  cannot  say 
that  no  use  can  be  made  of  the  most  dis- 
proportionate. No  limits  can  be  pre- 
scribed in  this  respect. 

The  weaker  the  force  the  more  mode- 
rate must  be  the  object  it  proposes  to  it- 
self, and  the  weaker  the  force  the  shorter 
time  it  will  last.  In  these  two  directions 
there  is  a  field  for  weakness  to  give 
way,  if  we  may  use  this  expression.  Of 
the  changes  which  the  measure  of  the 
force  produces  in  the  conduct  of  war,  we 
can  only  speak  by  degrees,  as  these 
things  present  themselves;  at  present 
it  is  sufficient  to  have  indicated  the  gene- 
ral point  of  view,  but  to  complete  that 
we  shall  add  one  more  observation. 

The  more  that  an  army  involved  in  an 
unequal  combat  falls  short  of  the  number 
of  its  opponents,  the  greater  must  be  the 
tension  of  its  powers,  the  greater  its 
energy  when  danger  presses.  If  the  re- 
verse takes  place,  and  instead  of  heroic 
desperation  a  spirit  of  despondency  en« 

CHAP.   IV.] 


Bues,  then  certainly  there  is  an  end  to 
every  art  of  war. 

If  with  this  energy  of  powers  is  com- 
bined a  wise  moderation  in  the  object 
proposed,  then  there  is  that  play  of 
brilliant  actions  and  prudent  forbear- 
ance which  we  admire  in  the  wars  of 
Frederick  the  Qreat. 

But  the  less  that  this  moderation  and 
caution  can  effect,  the  more  must  the  ten- 
sion and  energy  of  the  forces  become 
predominant  When  the  disproportion 
of  forces  is  so  great  that  no  modification 
of  our  own  object  can  ensure  us  safety 
from  a  catastrophe,  or  where  the  pro- 

bable continuance  of  the  danger  is  so 
g^reat  that  the  greatest  economy  of  our 
powers  can  no  longer  suffice  to  bring  us 
to  our  object,  then  the  tension  of  our 
powers  should  be  concentrated  for  one 
desperate  blow;  he  who  is  pressed  on 
all  sides  expecting  little  help  from  things 
which  promise  none,  will  place  his  last 
and  only  reliance  in  the  moral  ascendancy 
which  despair  g^ves  to  courage,  and  look 
upon  the  greatest  daring  as  the  greatest 
wisdom, — at  the  same  time  employ  the 
assistance  of  subtle  stratagem,  and  if  he 
does  not  succeed,  will  find  in  an  honour- 
able downfall  the  right  to  rise  hereafter. 



We  shall  only  speak  of  the  three  princi- 
pal arms:  Infantry,  Cavalry,  and  Artil- 

We  must  be  excused  for  making  the 
following  analysis  which  belongs  more 
to  tactics,  but  is  necessary  to  give  dis- 
tinctness to  our  ideas. 

The  combat  is  of  two  kinds,  which  are 
essentially  different:  the  destructive 
principle  of  fire,  and  the  hand  to  hand 
or  personal  combat.  This  latter,  again, 
is  either  attack  or  defence.  (As  we  here 
speak  of  elements,  attack  and  defence 
are  to  be  understood  in  a  perfectly  abso- 
lute sense.)  Artillery,  obviously,  acts 
only  with  the  destructive  principle  of 
fire.  Cavalry  only  with  personal  combat. 
Infantry  with  both. 

In  close  combat  the  essence  of  defence 
consists  in  standing  firm,  as  if  rooted  to 
the  ground;  the  essence  of  the  attack 
is  movement.  Cavalry  is  entirely  defi- 
cient in  the  first  quality ;  on  the  other 

hand,  it  possesses  the  latter  in  an  especial 
manner.  It  is  therefore  only  suited  for 
attack.  Infantry  has  especially  the  pro- 
perty of  standing  firm,  but  is  not  alto- 
gether without  mobility. 

From  this  division  of  the  elementary 
forces  of  war  into  different  arms,  we  have 
as  a  result,  the  superiority  and  general 
utility  of  Infantry  as  compared  with  the 
other  two  arms,  firom  its  being  the  only 
arm  which  unites  in  itself  all  the  three 
elementary  forces.  A  further  deduction 
to  be  drawn  is,  that  the  combination  of 
the  three  arms  leads  to  a  more  perfect, 
use  of  the  forces,  by  affording  the  means 
of  strengthening  at  pleasure  either  the 
one  or  the  other  of  the  principles  which 
are  united  in  an  unalterable  manner  in 

The  destructive  principle  of  fire  is  in 
the  wars  of  the  present  time  plainly  be- 
yond measure  the  most  effective ;  never- 
theless, the  close  combat,   man   to  man, 



[book  ▼. 

is  just  as  plainly  to  be  regarded  as 
the  real  basis  of  combat.  For  that 
reasoD,  therefore,  an  army  of  artilleiy 
only  would  be  an  absurdity  in  war,  but 
an  army  of  cavalry  is  conceivable,  only 
it  would  possess  very  little  intensity  of 
force.  An  army  of  infantry  alone  is  not 
only  conceivable  but  also  much  the  strong- 
est of  the  three.  The  three  arms,  there- 
fore, stand  in  this  order  in  reference  to 
independent  value — Infantry,  Cavalry, 

But  this  order  does  not  hold  good  if 
applied  to  the  relative  importance  of  each 
arm  when  they  are  all  three  acting  in 
conjunction.  As  the  destructiye  princi- 
ple is  much  more  effective  than  the  prin- 
ciple of  motion,  therefore  the  complete 
want  of  cavalry  would  weaken  an  army 
less  than  the  total  want  of  artillery. 

An  army  consisting  of  infantry  and 
artillery  alone,  would  certainly  find  itself 
in  a  disagreeable  position  if  opposed  to 
an  army  composed  of  all  three  arms ;  but 
if  what  it  lacked  in  cavalry  was  compen- 
sated for  by  a  proportionate  increase  of 
infantry,  it  would  still,  by  a  somewhat 
different  mode  of  acting,  be  able  to  do 
very  well  with  its  tactical  economy.  Its 
outpost  service  would  cause  some  embar- 
rassment ;  it  would  never  be  able  to  pur- 
sue a  beaten  enemy  with  great  vivacity, 
and  it  must  make  a  retreat  with  greater 
hardships  and  efforts ;  but  these  incon- 
veniences would  still  never  be  sufficient 
in  themselves  to  drive  it  completely  out 
of  the  field. — On  the  other  hand,  such 
an  army  opposed  to  one  composed  of  in- 
fantry and  cavalry  only  would  be  able 
to  play  a  very  good  part,  while  it  is 
nardly  conceivable  that  the  latter  could 
keep  the  field  at  all  against  an  army 
made  up  of  all  three  arms. 

Of  course  these  reflections  on  the  rela- 
tive importance  of  each  single  arm  result 
only  from  a  consideration  of  the  gene- 
rality of  events  in  war,  where  one  case 
compensates  another;  and  therefore  it 
is  not  our  intention  to  apply  the  truth 

thus  ascertained  to  each  individual  case 
of  a  particular  combat.  A  battalivi  on 
outpost  service  or  on  a  retreat  may,  per- 
haps, choose  to  have  with  it  a  squadron 
in  preference  to  a  couple  of  guns.  A 
body  of  cavalry  with  horse  artillery,  sent 
in  rapid  pursuit  of,  or  to  cut  ofi^  a  flying 
enemy  wants  no  infantry,  etc.,  etc. 

If  we  summarise  the  results  of  these 
considerations  they  amount  to  this. 

1.  That  infantry  is  the  most  independ< 
ent  of  the  three  arms. 

2.  Artillery  is  quite  wanting  in  inde- 

3.  Infantry  is  the  most  important  in 
the  combination  of  the  three  arms. 

4.  Cavalry  can  the  most  easily  be  dis- 
pensed with. 

5.  A  combination  of  the  three  aims 
g^ves  the  greatest  strength. 

Now,  if  the  combination  of  the  three 
g^ves  the  greatest  strength,  it  is  natural 
to  inquire  what  is  the  best  absolute  pro- 
portion of  each,  but  that  is  a  question 
which  it  is  almost  impossible  to  answer. 

If  we  could  form  a  comparative  esti« 
mate  of  the  cost  of  organising  in  the  first 
instance,  and  then  provisioning  and 
maintaining  each  of  the  three  arms, 
and  then  again  of  the  relative  amount  of 
service  rendered  by  each  in  war,  we 
should  obtain  a  definite  resxdt  which 
would  give  the  best  proportion  in  the 
abstract.  But  this  is  little  more  than  a 
play  of  the  imagination.  The  very  first 
term  in  the  comparison  is  difficult  to  de- 
termine, that  is  to  say,  one  of  the  factors, 
the  cost  in  money,  is  not  difficult  to  find; 
but  another,  the  value  of  men's  lives, 
is  a  computation  which  no  one  would 
readily  try  to  solve  by  figures. 

Also  the  circumstance  that  each  of  the 
three  arms  chiefly  depends  on  a  different 
element  of  strength  in  the  state— Infan- 
try on  the  number  of  the  male  popula- 
tion, cavalry  on  the  number  of  horses, 
artillery  on  available  financial  means— ^ 
introduces  into  the  calculation  some  hete- 
rogeneous conditions,  the  overruling  influ- 

OBAP.  nr.] 


ence  of  which  may  be  plainly  observed 
in  tha  great  outHnes  of  the  history  of 
different  people  at  various  periods. 

As,  however,  for  other  reasons  we  can- 
not altogether  dispense  with  some  stan- 
dard of  comparison,  therefore,  in  place  of 
the  whole  of  the  first  term  of  the  com- 
parison we  must  take  only  that  one  of 
its  factors  which  can  be  ascertained, 
namely,  the  cost  in  money.  Now  on  this 
point  it  is  sufficient  for  our  purpose  to 
assume  that,  in  general,  a  squadron  of 
150  horsemen,  a  battalion  of  infantry 
800  strong,  a  battery  of  artillery  consist- 
ing of  8  six-pounders,  cost  nearly  the 
same,  both  as  respects  the  expense  of 
formation  and  of  maintenance. 

With  regard  to  the  other  member  of 
the  comparison,  that  is,  how  much  ser- 
vice the  one  arm  is  capable  of  rendering 
as  compared  with  the  others,  it  is  much 
less  easy  to  find  any  distinct  quantity. 
The  thing  might  perhaps  be  possible  if 
it  depended  merely  on  the  destroying 
principle ;  but  each  arm  is  destined  to 
its  own  particular  use,  therefore  has  its 
own  particular  sphere  of  action,  which, 
again,  is  not  so  distinctly  defined  that  it 
might  not  be  greater  or  less  through 
modifications  only  in  the  mode  of  con- 
ducting the  war,  without  causing  any 
decided  disadvantage. 

We  are  often  told  of  what  experience 
teaches  on  this  subject,  audit  is  supposed 
that  military  history  affords  the  informa- 
tion necessary  for  a  settlement  of  the 
question,  but  every  one  must  look  upon 
all  that  as  nothing  more  than  a  way  of 
talking,  which,  as  it  is  not  derived  from 
anything  of  a  primary  and  necessary 
nature,  does  not  deserve  attention  in  an 
analytical  examination. 

Now  although  a  fixed  ratio  as  repre- 
senting the  best  proportion  between  the 
three  arms  is  conceivable,  but  is  an  x 
which  it  is  impossible  to  find,  a  mere 
imaginary  quantity,  still  it  is  possible  to 
appreciate  the  effects  of  having  a  great 
superiority  or  a  great  inferiority  in  one 

particular  arm  as  compared  with  the 
same  arm  in  the  enemy's  army. 

Artillery  increases  the  destructive  prin- 
ciple of  fire  ;  it  is  the  most  redoubtable  of 
arms,  and  its  want,  therefore,  diminished 
very  considerably  the  intensive  force  of 
an  army.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  the 
least  moveable,  consequently,  makes  an 
army  more  unwieldy ;  further,  it  always 
requires  a  force  for  ite  support,  because 
it  is  incapable  of  close  combat ;  if  it  is 
too  numerous,  so  that  the  troops  appointed 
for  its  protection  are  not  able  to  resist 
the  attacks  of  the  enemy  at  every  point, 
it  is  often  lost,  and  from  that  follows  a 
fresh  disadvantage,  because  of  the  three 
arms  it  is  the  only  one  which  in  its 
principal  parts,  that  is  guns  and  carriages, 
the  enemy  can  soon  use  against  us. 

Cavalry  increases  the  principle  of 
mobility  in  an  army.  If  too  few  in 
number  the  brisk  flame  of  the  elements 
of  war  is  thereby  weakened,  because 
everything  must  be  done  slower  (on 
foot),  everything  must  be  organised  with 
more  care ;  the  rich  harvest  of  victory, 
instead  of  being  cut  with  a  scythe,  can 
only  be  reaped  with  a  sickle. 

An  excess  of  cavalry  can  certainly 
never  be  looked  upon  as  a  direct  diminu- 
tion of  the  combatant  force,  as  an  organic 
disproportion,  but  it  may  certainly  be  so 
indirectly,  on  account  of  the  difficulty  of 
feeding  that  arm,  and  also  if  we  reflect 
that  instead  of  a  surplus  of  10,000 
horsemen  not  required  we  might  have 
50,000  infantry. 

These  peculiarities  arising  from  the 
preponderance  of  one  arm  are  the  more 
important  to  the  art  of  war  in  its  limited 
sense,  as  that  art  teaches  the  use  of  what- 
ever forces  are  forthcoming ;  and  when 
forces  are  placed  under  the  command  of 
a  general,  the  proportion  of  the  three 
arms  is  also  commonly  already  settled 
without  his  having  had  much  voice  in 
the  matter. 

If  we  would  form  an  idea  of  the 
character  of  warfare  modified  by  the  pre- 



r:  » 

[^pOK   T. 

ponderance  of  o&e  or  other  of  the  three 
arms  ft  is  to  be  done  in  the  following 
manner : — 

Am  excess  of  artillery  leads  to  a  more 
defensive  and  passive  character  in  our 
measures ;  our  interest  will  be  to  seek 
security  in  strong  positions,  great  natural 
obstacles  of  ground,  even  in  mountain 
positions,  in  order  that  the  natural 
impediments  we  find  in  the  ground  may 
undertake  the  defence  and  protection  of 
our  numerous  artillery,  and  that  the 
enemy's  forces  may  come  themselves  and 
seek  their  own  destruction.  The  whole 
war  will  be  carried  on  in  a  serious  formal 
minuet  step. 

On  the  other  hand,  a  want  of  artillery 
will  make  us  prefer  the  offensive,  the 
active,  the  mobile  principle  ;  marching, 
fatigue,  exertion,  become  our  special 
weapons,  thus  the  war  will  become  more 
diversified,  more  lively,  rougher;  small 
change  is  substituted  for  great  events. 

"With  a  very  numerous  cavalry  we 
seek  wide  plains,  and  take  to  great 
movements.  At  a  greater  distance  from 
the  enemy  we  enjoy  more  rest  and  greater 
conveniences  without  conferring  the  same 
advantages  on  our  adversary.  We  may 
venture  on  bolder  measures  to  outflank 
him,  and  on  more  daring  movements 
generally,  as  we  have  command  over 
space.  In  as  far  as  diversions  and  inva- 
sions are  true  auxiliary  means  of  war  we 
shall  be  able  to  make  use  of  them  with 
greater  facility. 

A  decided  want  of  cavalry  diminishes 
the  force  of  mobility  in  an  army  without 
increasing  its  destructive^  power  as  an 
excess  of  artUlery  does.  Prudence  and 
method  become  then  the  leading  charac- 
teristics of  the  war.  Always  to  remain 
near  the  enemy  in  order  to  keep  him 
constantly  in  view — no  rapid,  still  less 
hurried  movements,  everywhere  a  slow 
pushing  on  of  well  concentrated  masses 
*-A  preference  for  the  defensive  and  for 
broken  country,  and,  when  the  offensive 
must  be  resorted  to,   the  shortest  road 

direct  to  the  centre  of  force  in  the  en«ny'a 
army — these  are  the  natural  tendea^ies  or 
principles  in  such  cases. 

These  different  forms  which  warfare 
takes  according  as  one  or  other  of  the 
three  arms  preponderates,  seldom  have 
an  influence  so  complete  and  decided 
as  alone,  or  chiefly  to  determine  the 
direction  of  a  whole  undertaking. 
Whether  we  shall  act  strategically  on 
the  offensive  or  defensive,  the  choice  of 
a  theatre  of  war,  the  determination  to 
fight  a  great  battle,  or  adopt  some  other 
means  of  destruction,  are  points  which 
must  be  determined  by  other  and  more 
essential  considerations,  at  least,  if  this 
is  not  the  case,  it  is  much  to  be  feared 
that  we  have  mistaken  minor  details  for 
the  chief  consideration.  But  although 
this  is  so,  although  the  great  questions 
must  be  decided  before  on  other  grounds, 
there  still  always  remains  a  certain 
margin  for  the  influence  of  the  prepon- 
derating arm,  for  in  the  offensive  we  can 
always  be  prudent  and  methodical,  in  the 
defensive  bold  and  enterprising,  etc., 
etc.,  through  all  the  different  stages  and 
gradations  of  Ihe  military  life. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  nature  of  a  war 
may  have  a  notable  influence  on  the 
proportions  of  the  three  arms. 

First,  a  national  war,  kept  up  by  militia 
and  a  general  levy  (Landsturm),  must 
naturally  bring  into  the  field  a  very  nu- 
merous infantry ;  for  in  such  wars  there 
is  a  greater  want  of  the  means  of  equip- 
ment than  of  men,  and  as  the  equipment 
consequently  is  confined  to  what  is  in- 
disputably necessaiy,  we  may  easily  ima« 
gine,  that  for  every  battery  of  eight  pieces, 
not  only  one,  but  two  or  three  battalions 
might  be  raised. 

Second,  if  a  weak  state  opposed  to  a 
powerful  one  cannot  take  ref^e  in  a 
general  call  of  the  male  population  to 
regular  military  service,  or  in  a  militia 
system  resembling  it,  then  the  increase 
of  its  artillery  is  certainly  ihe  shortest 
way  of  bringing  up  its  weak  army  nearer 

CHAPi  lY.] 



to  mi  equality  with  that  of  the  enemy, 
for  it  aavee  men,  and  intensifies  the  es- 
sential principle  of  military  force,  that 
is,  the  destructive  principle.  Any  way, 
such  a  state  will  mostly  be  confined  to  a 
limited  theatre,  and  therefore  this  arm 
will  be  better  suited  to  it.  Frederick  the 
Great  adopted  this  means  in  the  later 
period  of  the  Seven  Years'  War. 

Third,  cavalry  is  the  arm  for  movement 
and  great  decisions ;  its  increase  beyond 
the  ordinary  proportions  is  therefore  im- 
portant if  the  war  extends  over  a  great 
space,  if  expeditions  are  to  be  made  in 
various  directions,  and  great  and  decisive 
blows  are  intended.  Buonaparte  is  an 
example  of  this. 

That  the  offensive  and  defensive  do 
not  properly  in  themselves  exercise  an 
influence  on  the  proportion  of  cavalry 
will  only  appear  plainly  when  we  come 
to  8x>eak  of  these  two  methods  of  acting 
in  war ;  in  the  meantime,  we  shall  only 
remark  that  both  assailant  and  defender 
as  a  rule  traverse  the  same  spaces  in  war, 
and  may  have  also,  at  least  in  many 
cases,  the  same  decisive  intentions.  We 
remind  our  readers  of  the  campaign  of 

It  is  commonly  believed  that,  in  the 
middle  ages,  cavedry  was  much  more  nu- 
merous in  proportion  to  infantry,  and 
that  the  difi'erence  has  been  gradually  on 
the  decrease  ever  since.  Yet  this  is  a 
mistake,  at  least  partly.  The  proportion 
of  cavalry  was,  according  to  numbers,  on 
the  average  perhaps,  not  much  greater ; 
of  this  we  may  convince  ourselves  by 
tracing,  through  the  history  of  the  middle 
ages,  the  detaUed  statements  of  the  armed 
forces  then  employed.  Let  us  only  think 
of  the  masses  of  men  on  foot  who  com- 
posed the  armies  of  the  Crusaders,  or  the 
masses  who  followed  the  Emperors  of  Ger- 
many on  their  Roman  expeditions.  It  was 
in  reality  the  importance  of  the  cavalry 
which  was  so  much  greater  in  those  days ; 
it  was  the  stronger  arm,  composed  of  the 
flower  of  the  people,  so  much  so  that. 

although  always  ^ry  m'u(^  weak^  actu- 
ally in  numbers,  it  was  still  alwltys  looked 
upon  as  the  chief  tiiung,  infantry  wa9 
little  valued,  hardly  spoken  of ;  hence  ha3 
arisen  the  belief  that  its  numbers  were 
few.  No  doubt  it  happened  oftener  than 
it  does  now,  that  in  incursions  of  small 
importance  in  France,  Germany,  and 
Itfidy,  a  small  army  was  composed  entirely 
of  cavalry ;  as  it  was  the  chief  arm,  there 
is  nothing  inconsistent  in  that;  but  these 
cases  decide  nothing  if  we  take  a  general 
view,  as  they  are  greatly  outnumbered  by 
cases  of  greater  armies  of  the  period 
constituted  differently.  It  was  only  when 
the  obligations  to  military  service  im- 
posed by  the  feudal  laws  had  ceased, 
and  wars  were  ccuried  on  by  soldiers 
enlisted,  hired,  and  paid — when,  there- 
fore, wars  depended  on  money  and 
enlistment,  that  is,  at  the  time  of 
the  Thirty  Tears*  War,  and  the  wars  of 
Louis  XIY. — that  this  employment  of 
great  masses  of  almost  useless  infantry 
was  checked,  and  perhaps  in  those  days 
they  might  have  fallen  into  the  exclusive 
use  of  cavalry,  if  infantry  had  not  just 
then  risen  in^importance  through  the  im- 
provements in  fire-arms,  by  which  means 
it  maintained  its  numerical  superiority  in 
proportion  to  cavalry  ;  at  this  period,  if 
infantry  was  weak,  the  proportion  was 
as  one  to  one,  if  numerous  as  three  to 

Since  then  cavalry  has  always  de- 
creased in  importance  according  as  im- 
provements in  the  use  of  fire-arms  have 
advanced.  This  is  intelligible  enough  in 
itself,  but  the'  improvement  we  speak  of 
does  not  relate  solely  to  the  weapon  itself 
and  the  skill  in  handliog  it ;  we  advert 
also  to  greater  ability  in  using  troops 
armed  with  this  weapon.  At  the  battle 
of  MoUwitz  the  Prussian  army  had 
brought  the  fire  of  their  infantry  to  such 
a  state  of  perfection,  that  there  has  been 
no  improvement  since  then  in  that  sense. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  use  of  infantry  in 
broken  ground  and  as  skirmishers  has 



[book  v. 

been  introduced  more  recently,  and  is  to 
be  looked  upon  as  a  very  great  advance 
in  the  art  of  destruction. 

Out  opinion  is,  thereforOi  that  the  rela- 
tion of  cavalry  has  not  much  changed  as 
far  as  regards  numbers,  but  as  regards 
its  importance,  there  has  been  a  great 
alteration.  This  seems  to  be  a  contra- 
diction, but  is  not  so  in  reality.  The 
infantry  of  the  middle  ages,  although 
forming  the  greater  proportion  of  an 
army,  did  not  attain  to  that  proportion 
by  its  value  as  compared  to  cavalry,  but 
because  all  that  could  not  be  appointed 
to  the  very  costly  cavalry  were  handed 
over  to  the  infantry ;  this  infantry  was, 
therefore,  merely  a  l9«t  resource ;  and  if 
the  number  of  cavalry  had  depended 
merely  on  the  value  set  on  that  arm,  it 
could  never  have  been  too  great.  Thus 
we  can  understand  how  cavalry,  in  spite 
of  its  constantly  decreasing  importance, 
may  still,  perhaps,  have  importance 
enough  to  keep  its  numerical  relation  at 
that  point  which  it  has  hitherto  so  con- 
stantly maintained. 

It  is  a  remarkable  fact  that,  at  least 
since  the  wars  of  the  Austrian  succession, 
the  proportion  of  cavalry  to  infantry  has 
changed  very  little,  the  variation  being 
constantly  between  a  fourth,  a  fifth  or 
a  sixth ;  this  seems  to  indicate  that 
those  proportions  meet  the  natural  re- 
quirements of  an  army,  and  that  those 
numbers  give  the  solution  which  it  is 
impossible  to  find  in  a  direct  manner. 
We  doubt,  however,  if  this  is  the  case, 
and  we  find  the  principal  instances  of  the 
employment  of  a  numerous  cavalry  suffi- 
ciently accounted  for  by  other  causes. 

Austria  and  Kussia  are  states  which 
have  kept  up  a  numerous  cavalry,  because 
they  retain  in  their  political  condition 
the  fragments  of  a  Tartar  organisation. 
Buonaparte  for  his  purposes  could  never 
be  strong  enough  in  cavalry ;  when  he 
had  made  use  of  the  conscription  as  far 
as  possible,  he  had  no  ways  of  strength- 
ening his  armies,  but  by  increasing  the 

auxiliary  arms,  as  they  cost  him  more  in 
money  than  in  men.  Besides  this,  it 
stands  to  reason  that  in  military  enter- 
prises of  such  enormous  extent  as  his, 
cavalry  must  have  a  greater  value  than  in 
ordinary  cases. 

Frederick  the  Great  it  is  well  known 
reckoned  carefully  every  recruit]that  could 
be  saved  to  his  country ;  it  was  his  great 
business  to  keep  up  the  strength  of  his 
army,  as  far  as  possible  at  the  expense  of 
other  countries.  His  reasons  for  this  are 
easy  to  conceive,  if  we  remember  that 
his  small  dominions  did  not  then  include 
Prussia  and  the  Westphalian  provinces. 
Cavalry  was  kept  complete  by  recruit- 
ment more  easily  tlian  infantry,  irres- 
pective of  fewer  men  beiug  required; 
in  addition  to  which,  his  system  of  war 
was  completely  founded  on  the  mobility 
of  his  army,  and  thus  it  was,  that  while 
his  infantry  diminished  in  number,  his 
cavalry  was  always  increasing  itself  till 
the  end  of  the  Seven  Years*  War.  Still  at 
the  end  of  that  war  it  was  hardly  more 
than  a  fourth  of  the  number  of  infantry 
that  he  had  in  the  field. 

At  the  period  referred  to  there  is  no 
want  of  instances,  also  of  armies  entering 
the  field  unusually  weak  in  cavalry,  and 
yet  carrying  ofi*  the  victory.  The  most  re-, 
markable  is  the  battle  of  Q-ross-gorschen. 
If  we  only  count  the  French  divisions 
which  took  part  in  the*  battle,  Buonaparte 
was  100,000  strong,  of  which  5,000  were 
cavalry,  90,000  infantry;  the  Allies  had 
70,000,  of  which  25,000  were  cavaliyand 
40,000  infantry.  Thus,  in  place  of  the 
20,000  cavalry  on  the  side  of  the  Allies  in 
excess  of  the  total  of  the  French  cavalry, 
Buonaparte  had  only  50,000  additional 
infantry  when  he  ought  to  have  liad 
100,000.  As  he  gained  the  battle  with 
that  superiority  in  infantry,  we  may  ask 
whether  it  was  at  all  likely  that  he  would 
have  lost  it  if  the  proportions  had  been 
140,000  to  40,000. 

Certainly  the  great  advantage  of  our  su- 
periority in  cavalry  was  shown  imme- 

CHAP,    v.] 



diatelj  after  the  battle^  for  Buonaparte 
gained  hardly  any  trophies  by  his  vic- 
tory. The  gain  of  a  battle  is  therefore 
not  everything, — but  is  it  not  always  the 
chief  thing  ? 

If  we  put  together  these  considerations, 
we  can  hardly  believe  that  the  numerical 
proportion  between  cavalry  and  infantry 
which  has  existed  for  the  last  eighty 
years  is  the  natural  one,  founded  solely 
on  their  absolute  value;  we  are  much 
rather  inclined  to  think,  that  after  many 
fluctuations,  the  relative  proportions  of 
these  arms  will  change  further  in  the 
same  direction  as  hitherto,  and  that  the 
fixed  number  of  cavalry  at  last  will  be 
considerably  less. 

With  respect  to  artillery,  the  number 
of  guns  has  naturally  increased  since  its 
first  invention,  and  according  as  it  has 
been  made  lighter  and  otherwise  im- 
proved ;  still  since  the  time  of  Frederick 
the  Great,  it  has  also  kept  very  much  to 
the  same  proportion  of  two  or  three  guns 
per  1,000  men,  we  mean  at  the  com- 
mencement of  a  campaign ;  for  during 
its  coarse  artillery  does  not  melt  away  as 
fast  as  infantry,  therefore  at  the  end  of 
a  campaign  the  proportion  is  generally 

notably  greater,  perhaps  thxee,  four,  or  five 
guns  per  1,000  men.  Whether  this  is  the 
natural  proportion,  or  that  the  increase  of 
artillery  may  be  carried  still  further,  With- 
out prej  udice  to  the  whole  conduct  of  war, 
must  be  left  for  experience  to  decide. 

The  principal  results  we  obtain  from 
the  whole  of  these  considerations,  are — 

1 .  That  infantry  is  the  chief  arm,  to 
which  the  other  two  are  subordinate. 

2.  That  by  the  exercise  of  great  skill 
and  energy  in  command,  the  want  of  the 
two  subordinate  arms  may  in  some 
measure  be  compensated  for,  provided 
that  we  are  much  stronger  in  infantry ; 
and  the  better  the  infantry  the  easier 
this  may  be  done. 

3.  That  it  is  niore  difficult  to  dispense 
with  artillery  than  with  cavalry,  because 
it  is  the  chief  principle  of  destruction, 
and  its  mode  of  fighting  is  more  amal- 
gamated with  that  of  infantry. 

4.  That  artillery  being  the  strongest 
arm,  as  regards  destructive  action,  and 
cavalry  the  weakest  in  that  respect,  the 
question  must  in  general  arise,  how  much 
artillery  can  we  have  without  inconveni- 
ence, and  what  is  the  least  proportion  of 
cavalry  we  require  ? 



The  order  of  battle  is  that  division  and 
formation  of  the  different  arms  into  sepa- 
rate parts  or  sections  of  the  whole  Army, 
and  that  form  of  general  position  or  dispo- 
sition of  those  parts  which  is  to  be  the  norm 
throughout  the  whole  campaign  or  war. 

It  consists,  therefore,  in  a  certain  mea- 
sure, of  an  arithmetical  an^  a  geometri- 
cal element,  the  division  and  the  form 
of  disposition.     The  first  proceeds  from 

the  permanent  peace  organisation  of  the 
army ;  adopts  as  units  certain  parts, 
such  as  battalions,  squadrons,  and  bat- 
teries, and  with  them  forms  imits  of  a 
higher  order  up  to  the  highest  of  all,  the 
whole  army,  according  to  the  require- 
ments of  predominating  circumstances. 
In  like  manner,  the  form  of  disposition 
comes  from  the  elementary  tactics,  in 
which  the  army  is  instructed  and  exer- 



[book  v. 

cised  in  time  of  peace,  which  must  be 
looked  upon  as  a  property  in  the  troops 
that  cannot  be  essentially  modified  at  the 
moment  war  breaks  ou^  the  disposition 
connects  these  tactics  with  the  conditions 
which  the  use  of  the  troops  in  war  and  in 
large  masses  demands,  and  thus  it  settles 
in  a  general  way  the  rule  or  norm  in  con- 
formity with  which  the  troops  are  to  be 
drawn  up  for  battle. 

This  has  been  invariably  the  case  when 
great  armies  have  taken  the  field,  and 
there  have  been  times  when  this  form 
was  considered  as  the  most  essential  part 
of  the  battle. 

In  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth  cen- 
turies, when  the  improvements  in  the  fire- 
arms of  infantry  occasioned  a  great  in- 
crease of  that  arm,  and  allowed  of  its 
being  deployed  in  such  long  thin  lines, 
the  order  of  battle  was  thereby  simplified, 
but,  at  the  same  time  it  became  more 
difficult  and  more  artificial  in  the  carrying 
out,  and  as  no  other  way  of  disposing  of 
cavalry  at  the  commencement  of  a  battle 
was  known  but  that  of  posting  them  on 
the  wings,  where  they  were  out  of  the  fire 
and  had  room  to  move,  therefore  in  the 
order  of  battle  the  army  always  became 
a  closed  inseparable  whole.  If  such  an 
army  was  divided  in  the  middle,  it  was 
like  SA  earthworm  cut  in  two:  the  wings 
had  still  life  and  the  power  of  motion, 
but  they  had  lost  their  natural  functions. 
The  army  lay,  therefore,  in  a  manner 
under  a  8j)ell  of  unity,  and  whenever  any 
part's  of  it  had  to  be  placed  in  a  sepa- 
rate ]>osition,  a  small  organisation  and 
disorganisation  became  necessary.  The 
marches  which  the  whole  army  had  to 
make  were  a  condition  in  which,  to  a  cer- 
tain extent,  it  found  itself  out  of  rule. 
If  the  enemy  was  at  hand,  the  march  had 
to  be  arranged  in  the  most  artificial  man- 
ner, and  in  order  that  one  line  or  one 
wing  might  be  always  at  the  prescribed 
distance  firom  the  other,  the  troops  had 
to  scramble  over  everything :  marches  had 
Ibo  constantly  to  be  stolen  from  the  ene- 

my, and  this  perpetual  theft  only  escaped 
severe  punishment  through  one  circusi- 
stance,  which  was,  that  the  enemy  lay 
under  the  same  ban. 

Hence,  when,  in  the  latter  half  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  it  was  discovered  that 
cavalry  would  serve  just  as  well  to  pro- 
tect a  wing  if  it  stood  in  rear  of  the  army 
as  if  it  were  placed  on  the  prolongation 
of  the  line,  and  that,  besides  this,  it 
might  be  applied  to  other  purposes  than 
merely  fighting  a  duel  with  the  enemy's 
cavalrp',  a  great  step  in  advance  was 
made,  because  now  the  army  in  its  prin- 
cipal extension  or  front,  which  is  always 
the  breadth  of  its  order  of  battle  (posi- 
tion), consisted  entirely  of  homogeneous 
members,  so  that  it  could  be  formed  of 
any  number  of  parts  at  pleasure,  each 

?art  like  another  and  like  the  whole, 
n  this  way  it  ceased  to  be  one  single 
piece  and  became  an  articulated  whole, 
consequently  pliable  and  manageable : 
the  parts  might  be  separated  from  the 
whole  and  then  joined  on  again  without 
difficulty,  the  order  of  battle  always  re- 
mained the  same.— Thus  arose  the  corps 
consisting  of  all  arms,  that  is,  thus  such 
an  organisation  became  possible,  for  the 
want  of  it  had  been  felt  long  before. 

That  all  this  relates  to  the  combat  is 
very  natural.  The  battle  was  formerly 
the  wliole  war,  and  will  always  continue 
to  be  the  principal  part  of  it;  but,  the 
order  of  battle  belongs  generally  more 
to  tactics  than  strategy,  and  it  is  only  in- 
troduced here  to  show  how  tactics  in  or- 
ganising the  whole  into  smaller  wholes 
made  preparations  for  strategy. 

The  greater  armies  become,  the  more 
they  are  distributed  over  wide  spaces 
and  the  more  diversified  the  action  and 
reaction  of  the  different  parts  amongst 
themselves,  the  wider  becomes  the  field  of 
strategy,  and,  therefore,  then  the  order 
of  battle,  in  the  sense  of  our  definition, 
must  also  come  into  a  kind  of  reciprocal 
action  with  strategy,  which  manifests 
itself  chiefiy  at  the  extreme  points  where 

CHAP,   v.] 



tactics  and  strategy  meet,  that  is,  at 
those  moments  when  the  general  distri- 
bution of  the  Qombatant  forces  passes 
into  the  special  dispositions  for  the  com- 

We  now  turn  to  those  three  points, 
the  division,  combination  of  arms,  and 
order  of  hattU  {dispontion)  in  a  strategic 
point  of  view. 

1. — Division, 

In  strategy  we  must  never  ask  what 
is  to  be  the  strength  of  «  division  or  a 
corps,  but  how  many  corps  or  division 
an  army  should  have.  There  is  nothing 
more  unmanageable  than  an  army  divided 
into  three  parts,  except  it  be  one  divided 
into  only  two,  in  wluch  case  the  chief 
command  must  be  almost  neutralised. 

To  fix  the  strength  of  great  and 
small  corps,  either  on  the  grounds  of 
elementary  tactics  or  on  higher  grounds, 
leaves  an  incredibly  wide  field  for  arbi- 
trary judgment,  and  heaven  knows  what 
strange  modes  of  reasoning  have  sported 
in  this  wide  field.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  necessity  of  forming  an  independent 
whole  (army)  into  a  certain  number  of 
parts  is  a  thing  as  obvious  as  it  is  posi- 
tive, and  this  idea  furnishes  real  strate- 
gic motives  for  determining  the  number 
of  the  greater  divisions  of  an  army,  con- 
sequently their  strength,  whilst  the 
strength  of  the  smaller  divisions,  such 
as  companies,  battalions,  etc.,  is  left  to  be 
determined  by  tactics. 

We  can  hardly  imagine  the  smallest 
independent  body  in  which  there  are  not 
at  least  three  parts  to  be  distinguished, 
that  one  part  may  be  thrown  out  in  ad* 
vance,  ana  another  part  be  left  in  rear : 
that  four  is  still  more  convenient  follows 
of  itself,  if  we  keep  in  view  that  the 
middle  part,  being  the  principal  division, 
ought  to  be  stronger  than  either  of  the 
others ;  in  this  way,  we  may  proceed  to 
make  out  eight,  which  appears  to  us  to 
be  the  most  suitable  number  for  an  army 

if  we  take  one  part  for  an  advanced  guard 
as  a  constant  necessity,  three  for  the 
main  body,  that  is  a  right  wing,  centre 
and  left  wing,  two  divisions  for  reserve, 
and  one  to  detach  to  the  right,  one  to 
the  left.  Without  pedantically  ascribing 
a  great  importance  to  these  numbers 
and  figures,  we  certainly  believe  that  they 
represent  the  most  usual  and  frequently 
recurring  strategic  disposition,  and  on 
that  account  one  that  is  convenient. 

Certainly  it  seems  that  the  supreme  di- 
rection of  an  army  (and  the  direction  of 
every  whole)  must  be  greatly  facilitated  if 
there  are  only  three  or  four  subordinates 
to  command,  but  the  commander-in-chief 
must  pay  dearly  for  this  convenience  in  a 
twofold  manner.  In  the  first  place,  an 
order  loses  in  rapidity,  force,  and  exact- 
ness if  the  gradation  ladder  down  which  it 
has  to  descend  is  long,  and  this  must  be 
the  case  if  there  are  corps-commanders 
between  the  division  leaders  and  the 
chief  ;  secondly,  the  chief  loses  generally 
in  his  own  proper  power  and  efficiency 
the  wider  the  spheres  of  action  of  his 
immediate  subordinates  become.  A  ge- 
neral commanding  100,000  men  in  eight 
divisions  exercises  a  power  which  is 
greater  in  intensity  than  if  the  100,000 
men  were  divided  into  only  three  corps. 
There  are  many  reasons  for  this,  but  the 
most  important  is  that  each  commander 
looks  upon  himself  as  having  a  kind  of 
proprietary  right  in  his  own  corps,  and 
always  opposes  the  withdrawal  from  him 
of  any  portion  of  it  for  a  longer  or  shorter 
time.  A  little  experience  of  war  will 
make  this  evident  to  any  one. 

But  on  the  other  hand  the  number  of 
divisions  must  not  be  too  great,  otherwise 
disorder  will  ensue.  It  is  difficult  enough 
to  manage  eight  divisions  from,  one  head 
quarter,  and  the  number  should  never  be 
allowed  to  exceed  ten.  But  in  a  division 
in  which  the  means  of  circulating  orders 
are  much  less,  the  smaller  normal  number 
four,  or  at  most  five,  may  be  regarded  as 
the  more  suitable. 



[book  v. 

If  these  factors,  five  and  ten,  will  not 
answer,  that  is,  if  the  brigades  are  too 
strong,  then  corps  Sannee  must  be  intro- 
duced ;  but  we  must  remember  that  by 
BO  doing,  a  new  power  is  created,  which  at 
once  very  much  lowers  all  other  factors. 

But  now,  what  is  too  strong  a  bri- 
gade ?  The  custom  is  to  make  them  from 
2,000  to  (5,000  men  strong,  and  there 
appear  to  be  two  reasons  for  making  the 
latter  number  the  limit ;  the  first  is  that 
a  brigade  is  supposed  to  be  a  subdivision 
which  can  be  commanded  by  one  man 
directly,  that  is,  through  the  compass  of 
his  voice  :  the  second  is  that  any  larger 
body  of  infantry  should  not  be  lefl  veith- 
out  artillery,  and  through  this  first  com- 
bination of  arms  a  special  division  of 
itself  is  formed. 

We  do  not  wish  to  involve  ourselves 
in  these  tactical  subtilties,  neither  shall 
we  enter  upon  the  disputed  point,  where 
and  in  what  proportions  the  combination 
of  all  three  arms  should  take  place, 
whether  with  divisions  of  8,000  to  12,000 
men,  or  with  corps  which  are  20,000  to 
80,000  men  strong.  The  most  decided  op- 
ponent of  these  combinations  will  scarcely 
take  exception  at  the  mere  assertion,  that 
nothing  but  this  combination  of  the  three 
arms  can  make  a  division  independent, 
and  that  therefore,  for  such  as  are 
intended  to  be  frequently  detached  se- 
parately, it  is  at  least  very  desirable. 

An  army  of  200,000  men  in  ten  divi- 
sions, the  divisions  composed  of  five 
brigades  each,  would  give  brigades  4,000 
strong.  We  see  here  no  dispropor- 
tion. Certainly  this  army  might  also  be 
divided  into  five  corps,  the  corps  into 
four  divisions,  and  the  division  into  four 
brigades,  which  makes  the  brigade  2,500 
men  strong  ;  but  the  first  distribution, 
looked  at  in  the  abstract,  appears  to  us 
preferable,  for  besides  that,  in  the  other, 
there  is  one  more  gradation  of  rank,  five 
parts  are  too  few  to  make  an  army  ma- 
nageable ;  four  divisions,  in  like  manner, 
are  too  few  for  a  corps,  and  2,500  men 

is  a  weak  brigade,  of  which,  in  this 
manner,  there  are  eighty,  whereas  the 
first  formation  has  only  fifty,  and  is 
therefore  simpler.  All  these  advantages 
are  given  up  merely  for  the  sake  of  hav- 
ing only  to  send  orders  to  half  as  many 
generals.  Of  course  the  distribution  into 
corps  is  still  more  unsuitable  for  smaller 

This  is  the  abstract  view  of  the  case. 
The  particular  case  may  present  good 
reasons  for  deciding  otherwise.  Likewise, 
we  must  admit  that,  although  eight  or 
ten  divisions  may  be  directed  when 
united  in  a  level  country,  in  widely  ex- 
tended mountain  positions  the  thing 
might  perhaps  be  impossible.  A  g^at 
river  which  divides  an  army  into  halves, 
makes  a  commander  for  each  half  indis- 
pensable ;  in  short,  there  are  a  hundred 
local  and  particular  objects  of  the  most 
decisive  character,  before  which  all 
rules  must  give  way. 

But  still,  experience  teaches  us,  that 
these  abstract  grounds  come  most  fre- 
quently into  use  and  are  seldomer  over- 
ruled by  others  than  we  should  perhaps 

We  wish  further  to  explain  clearly 
the  scope  of  the  foregoing  considerations 
by  a  simple  outline,  for  which  purpose 
we  now  place  the  different  points  of  most 
importance  next  to  each  other. 

As  we  mean  by  the  term  numbers,  or 
part«  of  a  whole,  only  those  which  are 
made  by  the  primary,  therefore  the  im- 
mediate division,  we  say. 

1.  If  a  whole  has  too  few  members  it 
is  unwieldy. 

2.  If  the  parts  of  a  whole  body  are 
too  large,  the  power  of  the  superior  will 
is  thereby  weakened. 

3.  With  every  additional  step  through 
which  an  order  has  to  pass,  it  is  weakened 
in  two  ways  :  in  one  way  by  the  loss  of 
force,  which  it  suffers  in  its  passage 
through  an  additional  step;  in  another 
way  by  the  longer  time  in  its  trans- 

CHAP,  v.] 



The  tendency  of  all  this  is  to  show 
that  the  number  of  co-ordinate  divisions 
should  be  as  ^eat,  and  the  gradational 
steps  as  few  as  possible ;  and  the  only 
limitation  to  this  conclusion  is,  that  in 
armies  no  more  thaa  from  eight  to  ten, 
and  in  subordinate  corps  no  more  than 
from  four  or  at  most  six,  subdivisions  can 
be  conveniently  directed. 

2. —  Combination  of  Arms, 

For  strategy  the  combination  of  the 
three  arms  in  the  order  of  battle  is  only 
important  in  regard  to  those  parts  of 
the  army  which,  according  to  the  usual 
order  of  things,  are  likely  to  be  frequently 
employed  in  a  detached  position,  where 
they  may  be  obliged  to  engage  in  an 
independent  combat.  Now  it  is  in 
the  nature  of  things,  that  the  members 
of  the  first  class,  and  for  the  most  part 
only  these,  are  destined  for  detached  posi- 
tions, because,  as  we  shall  see  elsewhere, 
detcLched  positions  are  most  generally 
adopted  upon  the  supposition  and  the 
necessity  of  a  body  independent  in  itself. 

In  a  strict  sense  strategy  would  there- 
fore only  require  a  permanent  combina- 
tion of  arms  in  army  corps,  or  where 
these  do  not  exist,  in  divisions,  leaving  it 
to  circumstances  to  determine  when  a 
provisional  combination  of  the  three 
arms  shall  be  made  in  subdivisions  of  an 
inferior  order. 

But  it  is  easy  to  see  that,  when 
corps  are  of  considerable  size,  such  as 
30,000  or  40,000  men,  they  can  seldom 
find  themselves  in  a  situation  to  take  up 
a  completely  connected  position  in  mass. 
With  corps  of  such  strength,  a  combina- 
tion of  the  arms  in  the  divisions  is  there- 
fore necessary.  No  one  who  has  had  any 
experience  in  war,  will  treat  lightly  the 
delay  which  occurs  when  pressing  mes- 
sages have  to  be  sent  to  some  other 

perhaps  distant  point  before  cavalry  can 
be  brought  to  the  support  of  infantry — 
to  say  nothing  of  the  confusion  which 
takes  place. 

The  details  of  the  combination  of  the 
three  arms,  how  far  it  should  extend, 
how  low  down  it  should  be  carried, 
what  proportions  should  be  observed, 
the  strength  of  the  reserves  of  each  to 
be  set  apart — these  are  all  purely  tactical 

3. — The  Disposition, 

The  determination  as  to  the  relations 
in  space,  according  to  which  the  parts  of 
an  aiTdy  amongst  themselves  are  to  be 
drawn  up  in  order  of  battle,  is  likewise 
completely  a  tactical  subject,  referring^ 
solely  to  the  battle.  No  doubt  there 
is  also  a  strategic  disposition  of  the 
parts  ;  but  it  depends  almost  entirely  on 
determinations  and  requirements  of  the 
moment,  and  what  there  is  in  it  of  the 
rational,  does  not  come  within  the  mean- 
ing of  the  term  **  order  of  battle."  We 
shall  therefore  treat  of  it  in  the  follow- 
ing chapter  under  the  head  of  Disposition 
of  an  Army. 

The  order  of  battle  of  an  army  is 
therefore  the  organisation  and  disposi- 
tion of  it  in  mass  ready  prepared  for 
battle.  Its  parts  are  united  in  such  a 
manner  that  both  the  tactical  and  strate- 
gical requirements  of  the  moment  can  be 
easily  satisfied  by  the  employment  of 
single  parts  drawn  from  the  general 
mass.  When  such  momentary  exigency 
has  passed  over,  these  parts  resume  their 
original  place,  and  thus  the  order  of 
battle  becomes  the  first  step  to,  and 
principal  foundation  of,  that  wholesome 
methodicism  which,  like  the  beat  of 
a  pendulum,  regulates  the  work  in  war, 
and  of  which  we  have  already  spoken  in 
the  fourth  chapter  of  the  Second  Book. 



[book  v. 



Betwebn  the  moment  of  the  first  as- 
sembling of  military  forces,  and  that  of 
the  solution  arrived  at  maturity  when 
strategy  has  brought  the  army  to  the 
decisive  point,  and  each  particular  part 
has  had  its  position  and  role  pointed  out 
by  tactics,  there  is  in  most  cases  a  long 
interval ;  it  is  the  same  between  one 
decisive  catastrophe  and  another. 

Formerly  these  intervals  in  a  certain 
measure  did  not  belong  to  war  at  all. 
Take  for  example  the  manner  in  which 
Luxemburg  encamped  and  marched. 
We  single  out  this  general  because  he  is 
celebrated  for  his  camps  and  marches, 
and  therefore  may  be  considered  a  re- 
presentative general  of  his  period,  and 
from  the  Hiitoire  de  la  Flandre  militaire, 
we  know  more  about  him  than  about 
other  generals  of  the  time. 

The  camp  was  regularly  pitched  with 
its  rear  close  to  a  river,  or  morass,  or  a 
deep  valley,  which  in  the  present  day 
would  be  considered  madness.  The 
direction  in  which  the  enemy  lay  had  so 
little  to  do  with  determining  the  front  of 
the  army,  that  cases  are  very  common  in 
which  the  rear  was  towards  the  enemy 
and  the  front  towards  their  own  country. 
This  now  imheard  of  mode  of  proceeding 
is  perfectly  unintelligible,  unless  we 
suppose  that  in  the  choice  of  oamps  the 
convenience  of  the  troops  was  the  chief, 
indeed  almost  the  only  consideration,  and 
therefore  look  upon  the  state  of  being 
in  camp  as  a  state  outside  of  the  action 
of  war,  a  kind  of  withdrawal  behind  the 
scenes,  where  one  is  quite  at  ease. 
The  practice  of  always  resting  the  rear 
upon  some  obstacle  may  be  reckoned  the 

only  measure  of  security  which  was  then 
taken,  of  course,  in  the  sense  of  the  mode 
of  conducting  war  in  that  day,  for  such 
a  measure  was  quite  inconsistent  with 
the  possibility  of  being  compelled  to  fight 
in  that  position.  But  there  was  little 
reason  for  apprehension  on  that  score, 
because  the  battles  generally  depended 
on  a  kind  of  mutual  understanding,  like 
a  duel,  in  which  the  parties  repair  to  a 
convenient  rendezvous.  As  armies,  partly 
on  account  of  their  numerous  cavalry, 
which  in  the  decline  of  its  splendour  was 
still  regarded,  particularly  by  the  French, 
as  the  principal  arm,  partly  on  account 
of  the  unwieldy  organisation  of  their 
order  of  battle,  could  not  fight  in  every 
description  of  country,  an  army  in  a  close 
broken  countiy  was  as  it  were  under 
the  protection  of  a  neutral  territory,  and 
as  it  could  itself  make  but  little  use 
of  broken  ground,  therefore,  it  was 
deemed  preferable  to  go  to  meet  aa 
enemy  seeking  battle.  We  know,  indeed, 
that  Luxemburg's  battles  at  Fleums, 
Stienkirk,  and  Neerwinden,  were  con- 
ceived in  a  different  spirit;  but  this 
spirit  had  only  just  then  under  this 
great  general  freed  itself  from  the  old 
method,  and  it  had  not  yet  reacted  on 
the  method  of  encampment.  Alterations 
in  the  art  of  war  originate  always  in 
matters  of  a  decisive  nature,  and  then 
lead  by  degrees  to  modifications  in  other 
things.  The  expression  tl  va  d  la  gHerrtf 
used  in  reference  to  a  partisan  setting 
out  to  watch  the  enemy,  shows  how  little 
the  state  of  an  army  in  camp  was  con- 
sidered to  be  a  state  of  real  warfare. 
It  was  not  much  otherwise  with  the 

CHAP.   VI.] 



marches,  for  tlie  artiUerj  then  separated 
itself  completely  from  the  rest  of  the 
armj,  in  order  to  take  advantage  of 
better  and  more  secure  roads,  and  the 
cavalry  on  the  wings  generally  took  the 
right  alternately^  that  each  might  have 
in  turn  its  share  of  the  honour  of 
marching  on  the  right. 

At  present  (that  is,  chiefly  since  the 
Silesian  wars)  the  situation  out  of  battle 
is  so  thoroughly  influenced  by  its  connec- 
tion with  battle  that  the  two  states  are 
in  intimate  correlation,  and  the  one 
can  no  longer  be  completely  imagined 
without  the  other.  Formerly  in  a  cam- 
paign the  battle  was  the  real  weapon, 
the  situation  at  other  times  only  the 
handle — the  former  the  steel  blade,  the 
other  t^e  wooden  haft  glued  to  it,  the 
whole  therefore  composed  of  heteroge- 
neous parts, — now  the  battle  is  the 
edge,  the  situation  out  of  the  battle  the 
back  of  the  blade,  the  whole  to  be  looked 
upon  as  metal  completely  welded  together, 
in  which  it  is  impossible  any  longer  to 
distinguish  where  the  steel  ends  and  the 
iron  begins. 

This  state  in  war  outside  of  the  battle  is 
now  partly  regulated  by  the  organisation 
and  regulations  with  which  the  army 
comes  prepared  from  a  state  of  peace, 
partly  by  the  tactical  and  strategic 
arrangements  of  the  moment.  The  three 
situations  in  which  an  army  may  be 
placed  are  in  quarters,  on  a  march,  or  in 
camp.  All  three  belong  as  much  to  tactics 
as  to  strategy,  and  these  two  branches, 
bordering  on  each  other  here  in  many 
ways,  often  seem '  to,  or  actually  do, 
incorporate  themselves  with  each  other, 
so  that  many  dispositions  may  be  looked 
upon  at  the  same  time  as  both  tactical 
and  strategic. 

We  shall  treat  of  these  three  situations 
of  an  army  outside  of  the  combat  in  a 
general  way,  before  any  special  objects 
come  into  connection  with  &em  ;  but  we 
must,  flrst  of  all,  consider  the  general 
disposition  of  the  forces,  because  that  is 

VOL.  n. 

a  superior  and  more  comprehensive 
measure,  determining  as  respects  camps, 
cantonments,  and  marches. 

If  we  look  at  the  disposition  of  the 
forces  in  a  general  way,  that  is,  leaving 
out  of  sight  any  special  object,  we  can 
only  imagine  it  as  a -unit,  that  is,  as  a 
whole,  intended  to  fight  all  together,  for 
any  deviation  from  this  simplest  form 
would  imply  a  special  object.  Thus 
arises,  therefore,  the  conception  of  an 
army,  let  it  be  small  or  large. 

Further,  when  there  is  an  absence  of 
any  special  end,  there  only  remains  as  the 
sole  object  the  preservation  of  the  army 
itself,  which  of  course  includes  its  se- 
curity. That  the  army  shall  be  able 
to  exist  without  inconvenience,  and  that 
it  shall  be  able  to  concentrate  without 
difficulty  for  the  purpose  of  fighting, 
are,  therefore,  the  two  requisite  con- 
ditions. From  these  result,  as  desirable, 
the  following  points  more  immediately 
appljdngto  subjects  concerning  the  exist- 
ence and  security  of  the  army. 

1.  Facility  of  subsistence. 

2.  Facility  of  providing  shelter  for  the 

3.  Security  of  the  rear. 

4.  An  open  country  in  front. 

5.  The  position  itself  in  a  broken 

6.  Strategic  points  d'appui. 

7.  A  suitable  distribution  of  the  troops. 
Our  elucidation  of  these  several  points 

is  as  follows : 

The  first  two  lead  us  to  seek  out  culti- 
vated districts,  and  great  towns  and  roads. 
They  determine  measures  in  general 
rather  than  in  particidar. 

In  the  chapter  on  lines  of  communica- 
tion will  be  found  what  we  mean  bv 
security  of  the  rear.  The  first  and  most 
important  point  in  this  respect  is  that 
the  centre  of  the  position  should  be  at  a 
right  angle  with  the  principal  line  of 
retreat  adjoining  the  position. 

Bespecting  the  fourth  point,  an  army 
certainly  cannot  look  over  an  expanse  of 



[book  t. 

country  in  its  front  as  it  overlooks  the 
space  directly  before  it  when  in  a  tactical 
position  for  battle.  But  the  strategic 
eyes  are  the  advanced  guard,  scouts  and 
patrols  sent  forward,  spies,  etc.,  etc.,  and 
the  service  will  naturally  be  easier  for 
these  in  an  open  than  in  an  intersected 
country.  The  fifth  point  is  merely  the 
reverse  of  the  fourth. 

Strategical  points  d'appui  differ  from 
tactical  in  these  two  respects,  that  the 
army  need  not  be  in  immediate  contact 
with  them,  and  that,  on  the  other  hand, 
they  must  be  of  greater  extent.  The  cause 
of  tiiis  is  that,  according  to  the  nature  of 
the  thing,  the  relations  to  time  and  space 
in  which  strategy  moves  are  generally  on 
a  greater  scale  tiLan  those  of  tactics.  If, 
therefore,  an  army  posts  itself  at  a  dis- 
tance of  a  mile  from  the  sea  coast  or  the 
banks  of  a  great  river,  it  leans  strate- 
gically on  these  obstacles,  for  the  enemy 
cannot  make  use  of  such  a  space  as  this 
to  effect  a  strategic  turning  movement. 
Within  its  narrow  limits  he  cannot  adven- 
ture on  marches  miles  in  length,  occupy- 
ing days  and  weeks.  On  the  other  hand, 
in  strategy,  a  lake  of  several  miles  in 
circumference  is  hardly  to  be  looked  upon 
as  an  obstacle ;  in  its  proceedings,  a  few 
miles  to  the  right  or  left  are  not  of  much 
consequence.  Fortresses  will  become 
strategic  points  d'appui,  according  as 
they  are  large,  and  afford  a  wide  sphere 
of  action  for  offensive  combinations. 

The  disposition  of  the  army  in  separate 
masses  may'  be  done  with  a  view  either 
to  special  objects  and  requirements,  or  to 
those  of  a  general  nature ;  here  we  can 
only  speak  of  the  latter. 

The  first  general  necessity  is  to 
push  forward  the  advanced  guard  and 
the  other  troops  required  to  watch  the 

The  second  is  that,  with  very  large 
armies,  the  reserves  are  usually  placed 
several  miles  in  rear,  and  consequently 
occupy  a  separate  position. 

Lastly,  the  covering  of  both  wings  of 

an  army  usuaUy  requires  a  separate  dis- 
position of  particular  corps. 

By  this  covering  it  is  not  at  all  meant 
that  a  portion  of  the  army  is  to  be  de- 
tached to  defend  the  space  round  its 
wings,  in  order  to  prevent  the  enemy 
from  approaching  these  weak  points,  as 
they  are  called :  who  would  then  defend 
the  wings  of  these  flanking  corps  ?  This 
kind  of  idea,  which  is  so  common,  is 
complete  nonsense.  The  wings  of  an 
army  are  in  themselves  not  wea^  points 
of  an  army  for  this  reason,  that  the  enemy 
also  has  wings,  and  cannot  menace  ours 
without  placing  his  own  in  jeopardy. 
It  is  only  if  circumstances  are  unequid., 
if  the  enemy's  army  is  ^ger  than  ours, 
if  his  lines  of  communication  are  more 
secure  (see  Lines  of  Oommunication),  it  is 
only  then  that  the  wings  become  weak 
parts ;  but  of  these  special  cases  we  are 
not  now  speaking,  therefore,  neither  of 
a  case  in  which  a  flanking  corps  is  ap- 
pointed in  connection  with  other  combi- 
nations to  defend  effectually  the  space 
on  our  wings,  for  that  no  longer  belongs 
to  the  category  of  general  dispositions. 

But  although  the  wings  are  not  par- 
ticularly weak  parts  still  they  are  parti- 
cularly important,  because  here,  on 
account  of  flanking  movements  the  de- 
fence is  not  so  simple  as  in  front,  mea- 
sures are  more  complicated  and  require 
more  time  and  preparation.  For  this 
reason  it  is  necessary  in  the  majo- 
rity of  cases  to  protect  the  wings  spe- 
cify against  unforeseen  enterprises  on 
the  part  of  the  enemy,  and  this  is  done 
by  placing  stronger  masses  on  the  wings 
than  would  be  required  for  mere  pur* 
poses  of  observation.  To  press  heavily 
these  masses,  even  if  they  oppose  no 
very  serious  resistance,  more  time  is  re«> 
quired,  and  the  stronger  they  are  the 
more  the  enemy  must  develop  his  forces 
and  his  intentions,  and  by  that  means 
the  object  of  the  measure  is  attained ; 
what  is  to  be  done  further  depends  on 
the  particular    plans   of   the    moment. 

GHAP.    VI.] 



We  may  therefore  regard  corps  placed 
on  the  wings  as  lateral  advanced  gaards, 
intended  to  retard  the  advance  of  the 
enemy  through  the  space  beyond  our 
wings  and  give  us  time  to  make  disposi* 
tions  to  counteract  his  movement. 

If  these  corps  are  to  fall  back  on  the 
main  body  and  the  latter  is  not  to  make 
a  backward  movement  at  the  same  time, 
then  it  follows  of  itself  that  they  must 
not  be  in  the  same  line  with  the  front  of 
the  main  body,  but  thrown  out  somewhat 
forwards,  because  when  a  retreat  is  to 
be  made,  even  without  being  preceded  by 
a  serious  engagement,  they  should  not 
retreat  directly  on  the  side  of  the  posi- 

From  these  reasons  of  a  subjective  na- 
ture, as  they  relate  to  the  inner  organisa- 
tion of  an  army,  there  arises  a  natural 
system  of  disposition ,  composed  of  four  or 
five  parts  according  as  the  reserve  remains 
with  the  main  body  or  not. 

As  the  subsistence  and  shelter  of  the 
troops  partly  decide  the  choice  of  a  posi- 
tion in  general,  so  also  they  contribute 
to  a  disposition  in  separate  divisions. 
The  attention  which  they  demand  comes 
into  consideration  along  with  the  other 
considerations  above  mentioned ;  and  we 
seek  to  satisfy  the  one  without  prejudice 
to  the  other.  In  most  cases,  by  the  divi- 
sion of  an  army  into  five  separate  corps, 
the  difficulties  of  subsistence  and  quar- 
tering will  be  overcome,  and  no  great 
alteration  will  afterwards  be  required  on 
their  account. 

We  have  still  to  cast  a  glance  at  the 
distances  at  which  these  separated  corps 
may  be  allowed  to  be  placed,  if  we  are 
to  retain  in  view  the  advantage  of  mutual 
support,  and,  therefore,  of  concentrating 
for  battle.  On  this  subject  we  remind 
our  readers  of  what  is  said  in  the  chap- 
ters on  the  duration  and  decision  of  the 
combat,  according  to  which  no  absolute 
distance,  but  only  the  most  general,  as 
it  were,  average  rules  can  be  given, 
because  absolute  and  relative  strength 

of  arms  and  country  have  a  great  in- 

The  distance  of  the  advanced  g^ard  is 
the  easiest  to  fix,  as  in  retreating  it  falls 
back  on  the  main  body  of  the  army,  and, 
therefore,  may  be  at  all  events  at  a  dis- 
tance of  a  long  day's  march  without  in- 
curring the  risk  of  being  obliged  to  fight 
an  independent  battle.  But  it  should 
not  be  sent  further  in  advance  than  the 
security  of  the  army  requires,  because 
the  further  it  has  to  fall  back  the  more 
it  suffers. 

Bespecting  corps  on  the  fianks,  as  we 
have  cdready  said,  the  combat  of  an  or- 
dinary division  of  8000  to  10,000  men 
usually  lasts  for  several  hours,  even 
for  half  a  day  before  it  is  decided; 
on  that  account,  therefore,  there  need  be 
no  hesitation  in  placing  such  a  division 
at  a  distance  of  some  leagues  or  one 
or  two  miles,  and  for  the  same  reason, 
corps  of  three  or  four  divisions  may  be 
detached  a  day's  march  or  a  distance 
of  three  or  four  miles. 

From  this  natural  and  general  disposi* 
tion  of  the  main  body,  in  four  or  five 
divisions  at  particular  distances,  a  certain 
method  has  arisen  of  dividing  an  army 
in  a  mechanical  manner  whenever  there 
are  no  strong  special  reasons  against 
this  ordinary  method. 

But  although  we  assume  that  each  of 
these  distinct  parts  of  an  army  shall  be 
competent  to  undertake  an  independent 
combat,  and  it  may  be  obliged  to  Qngage 
in  one,  it  does  not  therefore  by  any  means 
follow  that  the  real  object  of  fractioning 
an  army  is  that  the  parts  should  fight 
separately ;  the  necessity  for  this  distri- 
bution of  the  army  is  mostly  only  a  con- 
dition of  existence  imposed  by  time.  If 
the  enemy  approaches  our  position  to 
try  the  fate  of  a  general  action,  the  stra- 
tegic period  is  over,  everything  concen- 
trates itself  into  the  one  moment  of  the 
battle,  and  therewith  terminates  and 
vanishes  the  object  of  the  distribution  of 
the  army.    As  soon  as  the  battle  com- 



[book  v. 

mences,  considerations  about  quarters  and 
subsistence  are  suspended  ;  the  observa- 
tion of  the  enemy  before  our  front  and  on 
our  flanks  has  fulfilled  the  purpose  of 
checking  his  advance  by  a  partial  resist- 
ance, and  now  all  resolves  itself  into  the 
one  great  unit — the  great  battle.    The 

best  criterion  of  skill  in  the  disposition  of 
an  army  lies  in  the  proof  that  the  distri- 
bution has  been  considered  merely  as  a 
condition,  as  a  necessaiy  evil,  but  that 
united  action  in  battle  has  been  considered 
the  object  of  the  disposition. 



These  two  bodies  belong  to  that  class  of 
subjects  into  which  both  the  tactical  and 
strategic  threads  run  simultaneously. 
On  the  one  hand  we  must  reckon  them 
amongst  those  provisions  which  give  form 
to  the  battle  and  ensure  the  execution  of 
tactical  plans ;  on  the  other  hand,  they 
frequency  lead  to  independent  combats, 
and  on  account  of  their  position,  more  or 
less  distant  from  the  main  body,  they 
are  to  be  regarded  as  links  in  the  strate- 
gic chain,  and  it  is  this  very  feature 
which  obliges  us  to  supplement  the  pre- 
ceding chapter  by  devoting  a  few  moments 
to  their  consideration. 

Every  body  of  troops,  when  not  com- 
pletely in  readiness  for  battle,  requires 
an  advanced  guard  to  learn  the  approach 
of  the  enemy,  and  to  gain  further  parti- 
culars respecting  his  force  before  he 
comes  in  sight,  for  the  range  of  vision,  as 
a  rule,  does  not  go  much  beyond  the 
range  of  firearms.  But  what  sort  of  man 
would  he  be  who  could  not  see  farther 
than  his  arms  can  reach  !  The  foreposts 
are  the  eyes  of  the  army,  as  we  have  al- 
ready said.  The  want  of  them,  however,  is 
not  cJways  equally  g^eat;  it  has  its  degrees. 
The  strength  of  armies  and  the  extent 
of  groimd  they  cover,  time,  place,  contin- 

gencies, the  method  of  making  war,  even  • 
chance,  are  all  points  which  have  an  in- 
fluence in  the  matter ;  and,  therefore,  we 
cannot  wonder  that  military  history,  in- 
stead of  furnishing  any  definite  and  sim- 
ple outlines  of  the  method  of  using  ad- 
vanced guards  and  outposts,  only  presents 
the  subject  in  a  kind  of  chaos  of  exam- 
ples of  the  most  diversified  nature. 

Sometimes  we  see  the  security  of  an 
army  intrusted  to  a  corps  regularly 
appointed  to  the  duty  of  advanced  guard; 
at  another  time  a  long  line  of  separate 
outposts  ;  sometimes  both  these  arrange- 
ments CO- exist,  sometimes  neither  one 
nor  the  other ;  at  one  time  there  is  only 
one  advanced  guard  in  common  for  the 
whole  of  the  advancing  columns  ;  at 
another  time,  each  colimin  has  its  own 
advanced  guard.  We  shall  endeavour  to 
get  a  clear  idea  of  what  the  subject 
really  is,  and  then  see  whether  we  can 
arrive  at  some  principles  capable  of  ap- 

If  the  troops  are  on  the  march,  a 
detachment  of  more  or  less  strength 
forms  its  van  or  advanced  g^ard,  and  in 
case  of  the  movement  of  the  army  being 
reversed,  this  same  detachment  will  form 
the   rearguard.    If  the   troops    are   in 

CHAP,  vn.] 



cantonments  or  camp,  an  extended  line 
of  weak  posts,  forms  the  vanguard,  the 
autposU.  It  is  essentially  in  the  nature  of 
things,  that,  when  the  army  is  halted, 
a  greater  extent  of  space  can  and  must 
be  watched  than  when  the  army  is  in 
motion,  and  therefore  in  the  one  case 
the  conception  of  a  chain  of  posts,  in 
the  other  that  of  a  concentrated  corps 
arises  of  itself. 

The  actual  strength  of  an  advanced 
guard,  as  well  as  of  outposts,  ranges 
from  a  considerable  corps,  composed  of 
an  organisation  of  aU  tliree  arms,  to  a 
regiment  of  hussars,  and  from  a  strongly 
entrenched  defensive  line,  occupied  by 
portions  of  troops  from  each  arm  of 
the  service,  to  mere  ontljdng  pickets, 
and  their  supports  detached  from,  the 
camp.  The  services  assigned  to  such 
vanguards  range  also  from  those  of  mere 
observation  to  an  offer  of  opposition  or 
resistance  to  the  enemy,  and  this  oppo- 
sition may  not  only  be  to  give  the 
main  body  of  the  army  the  time  which 
it  requires  to  prepare  for  battle,  but 
also  to  -make  Uie  enemy  develop  his 
plans,  and  intentions,  which  consequently 
makes  the  observation  far  more  im- 

According  as  more  or  less  time  is 
required  to  be  gained,  according  as  the 
opposition  to  be  offered  is  calcidated 
upon  and  intended  to  meet  the  special 
measures  of  the  enemy,  so  accordingly 
must  the  strength  of  the  advanced  guard 
and  outposts  be  proportioned. 

Frederick  the  Great,  a  general  above 
all  others  ever  ready  for  battle,  and 
who  almost  directed  his  army  in  battle 
by  word  of  command,  never  required 
strong  outposts.  We  see  him  therefore 
constantly  encamping  close  under  the 
eyes  of  the  enemy,  without  any  great 
apparatus  of  outposts,  relying  for  his 
security,  at  one  place  on  a  hussar  re- 
giment, at  another  on  a  light  battalion, 
or  perhaps  on  the  pickets,  and  supports 
furnished  from  the  camp.  On  the  march, 

a  few  thousand  horse,  generally  furnished 
by  the  cavalry  on  the  flanks  of  the  first 
line,  formed  his  advanced  g^ard,  and  at 
the  end  of  the  march  rejoined  the  main 
body.  He  very  seldom  had  any  corps 
permanently  employed  as  advanced 

When  it  is  the  intention  of  a  small  army, 
by  using  the  whole  weight  of  its  mass 
with  great  vigour  and  activity,  to  make 
the  enemy  feel  the  effect  of  its  superior 
discipline  and  the  greater  resolution  of 
its  commander,  then  almost  every  thing 
must  be  done  sous  la  harhe  de  Vennemi,  in 
the  same  way  as  Frederick  the  G-reat  did 
when  opposed  to  Daun.  A  system  of 
holding  back  from  the  enemy,  and  a  very 
formal,  and  extensive  system  of  outposts 
would  neutralise  all  the  advantages  of 
the  above  kind  of  superiority.  The  cir- 
cumstance that  an  error  of  another  kind, 
and  the  carrying  out  Frederick's  system 
too  far,  may  lead  to  a  battle  of  Hochkirch, 
is  no  argument  against  this  method  of 
acting;  we  should  rather  say,  that  as 
there  was  only  one  battle  of  Hochkirch 
in  all  the  Silesian  war,  we  ought  to 
recognise  in  this  system  a  proof  of  the 
King's  consummate  ability. 

Napoleon,  however,  who  commanded 
an  army  not  deficient  in  discipline  and 
firmness,  and  who  did  not  want  for  re- 
solution himself,  never  moved  without  a 
strong  advanced  guard.  There  are  two 
reasons  for  this. 

The  first  is  to  be  found  in  the  altera- 
tion in  tactics.  A  whole  army  is  no  longer 
led  into  battle  as  one  body  by  mere 
word  of  command,  to  settle  the  affair  like 
a  great  duel  by  more  or  less  skill  and 
bravery;  the  combatants  on  each  side 
now  range  their  forces  more  to  suit  the 
peculiarities  of  the  ground  and  circum- 
stances, so  that  the  order  of  battle,  and 
consequently  the  battle  itself,  is  a  whole 
made  up  of  many  parts,  from  which  there 
follows,  that  the  simple  determination  to 
fight  becomes  a  regularly  formed  plan, 
and  the  word  of  command  a  more  or  less 



[book  v. 

long  preparatory  arrangement.   For  this 

time  and  data  are  required. 

The  second  cause  lies  in  the  great  size 

of  modem   armies.   Frederick    brought 

thirty  or  forty  thousand  men  into  battle  ; 

Napoleon    from    one  to    two    hundred 


We  have  selected  these  examples  be- 
cause every  one  will    admit,  that  two 
such  generals  would  never  have  adopted 
any  systematic  mode  of  proceeding  with- 
out some  good  reason.   Upon  the  whole, 
there  has  been  a  gener^  improvement 
in  the  use  of  advanced  guards  and  out- 
posts in  modem  wars ;  not  that  every 
one  acted    as  Frederick,  even    in   the 
Silesian  wars,  for    at    that     time    the 
Austrians  had  a  system  of  strong  out- 
posts,   and    frequently  sent  forward   a 
corps  as  advanced  guard,  for  which  they 
had  sufficient  reason  from  the  situation 
in  which  they  were  placed.     Just  in  the 
same  way  we  find  differences  enough  in 
the  mode  of  carrying  on  war  in  more 
modem  times.     Even  the  French  Mar- 
shals   Macdonald    in    Silesia,    Oudinot 
and  Ney  in  the  Mark  (Brandenburg),  ad- 
vanced with  armies  of  sixty  or  seventy 
thousand  men,  without  our  reading  of 
their  having  had  any  advanced  guard.— 
We  have  hitherto  been  discussing  ad- 
vanced guards  and  outposts  in  relation 
to  their  numerical  strength ;  but  there  is 
another  difference  which  we  must  settle. 
It  is  that,  when  an  army  advances  or 
retires  on  a  certain  breadth  of  ground, 
it  may  have  a  van  and  rear  guard  in 
common  for  all  the  columns  which  are 
marching  side  by  side,  or  each  column 
may  have  one  for  itself.  In  order  to  form 
a  clear  idea  on  this  subject,  we  must  look 
at  it  in  this  way. 

The  fundamental  conception  of  an 
advanced  guard,  when  a  corps  is  so 
specially  designated,  is  that  its  mission 
is  the  security  of  the  main  body  or 
centre  of  the  army.  If  this  main  body 
is  marching  upon  several  contiguous 
roads    so  close  together  that  they  can 

also  easily  serve  for  the  advanced  guard, 
and  therefore  be  covered  by  it,  then  the 
flank  columns  naturally  require  no 
special  covering. 

But  those  corps  which  are  moving  at 
great  distances,  in  reality  as  detached 
corps,muBt  provide  their  own  van-guards. 
The  same  applies  also  to  any  of  those 
corps  which  belong  to  the  central  mass, 
and  owing  to  the  direction  that  the  roads 
may  happen  to  take,  are  too  far  from  the 
centre  column.  Therefore  there  will  be 
as  many  advanced  guards,  as  there  are 
columns  virtually  separated  from  each 
other ;  if  each  of  these  advanced  gpiards 
is  much  weaker  than  one  general 
one  would  be,  then  they  fall  more  into 
the  class  of  other  tactical  dispositions, 
and  there  is  no  advanced  guwi  in  the 
strategic  tableau.  But  if  the  main  body 
or  centre  has  a  much  larger  corps  for  its 
advanced  guard,  then  that  corps  will 
appear  as  the  advanced  guard  of  the 
whole,  and  will  be  so  in  many  respects. 

But  what  can  be  the  reason  for  giving 
the  centre  a  van-gpiard  so  much  stronger 
than  the  wings?  The  following  three 

1.  Because  the  mass  of  troops  com- 
posing the  centre  is  usually  much  more 

2.  Because  plainly  the  central  point 
of  a  strip  of  country  along  which  the 
front  of  an  army  is  extended  must 
always  be  the  most  important  point,  as 
all  ^'^  combinations  of  the  campaign 
relate  mostly  to  it,  and  therefore  the 
field  of  battle  is  also  usually  nearer  to  it 
than  to  the  wings. 

3.  Because,  although  a  corps  thrown 
forward  in  front  of  fiie  centre  does  not 
directly  protect  the  wings  as  a  real  van- 
guard, it  still  contributes  g^atly  to 
their  security  indirectly.  For  instance, 
the  enemy  cannot  in  ordinary  cases  pass 
by  such  a  corps  within  a  certain  distance 
in  order  to  effect  any  enterprise  of  im- 
portance against  one  of  the  wings,  be- 
cause he  has  to  fear  an  attack  in  flank 

CHAP,  vn.] 



and  rear.  Even  if  this  check  whicli  a 
corps  thrown  forward  in  the  centre 
imposes  on  the  enemy  is  not  sufficient  to 
constitute  complete  security  for  the  wings, 
it  is  at  all  events  sufficient  to  relieve  the 
flanks  ^m  all  apprehension  in  a  great 
many  cases. 

The  van-guard  of  the  centre,  if  much 
stronger  than  that  of  a  wing,  that  is  to 
eay,  il  it  consists  of  a  special  coips  as 
advanced  guard,  has  then  not  merely 
the  mission  of  a  van-guard  intended  to 
protect  the  troops  in  its  rear  from  sudden 
surprise;  it  also  operates  in  more  general 
strategic  relations  as  an  army  corps 
thrown  forward  in  advance. 

The  following  are  the  purposes  for 
which  such  a  corps  may  be  used,  and 
therefore  those  which  determine  its 
duties  in  practice. 

1.  To  insure  a  stouter  resistance,  and 
make  the  enemy  advance  with  more 
caution ;  consequently  to  do  the  duties 
of  a  van-g^ard  on  a  greater  scale,  when^ 
ever  our  arrangements  are  such  as  to 
require  time  before  they  can  be  carried 
into  effect. 

2.  If  the  central  mass  of  the  army  is 
very  large,  to  be  able  to  keep  this 
unwieldy  body  at  some  distance  from 
the  enemy,  while  we  still  remain  close 
to  him  with  a  more  moveable  body  of 

3.  That  we  may  have  a  corps  of  ob- 
servation close  to  the  enemy,  if  there  are 
any  other  reasons  which  require  us  to 
keep  the  principal  mass  of  the  army  at  a 
considerable  distance. 

The  idea  that  weaker  look-out  posts, 
mere  partisan  corps,  might  answer  just 
as  well  for  this  observation  is  set  aside 
at  once  if  we  reflect  how  easily  a  weak 
corps  might  be  dispersed,  and  how  very 
limited  also  are  its  means  of  observation 
as  compared  with  those  of  a  consider- 
able corps. 

4.  Inthepurstdt  of  the  enemy.  A  single 
corps  as  advanced  g^ard,  with  the  greater 
part  of  the  cavalry  attached  to  it,  can 

move  quicker,  arriving  later  at  its 
bivouac,  and  moving  earlier  in  the 
morning  than  the  whole  mass. 

5.  Lastly,  on  a  retreat,  as  rearguard, 
to  be  used  in   defending  the  principal 
natural  obstacles  of    ground.*    In   this 
respect  also   the  centre  is   exceedingly 
important.      At  first  sight  it  certainly 
appears  as  if  such  a  rearguard  would  be 
constantly  in  danger  of  having  its  flanks 
turned.     But  we  must  remember  that, 
even  if  the  enemy  succeeds  in  overlapping 
the  flanks  to  some  extent,  he  has  still  to 
march  the  whole  way  from  there  to  the 
centre  before  he  can  seriously  threaten 
the  central  mass,  which  gives  time   to 
the  rearguard  of  the  centre  to  prolong 
its  resistance,  and  remain  in  rear  some- 
what  longer.     On  the  other  hand,  the 
situation  becomes  at  once  critical  if  the 
centre  falls  back  quicker  than  the  wings ; 
there  is  immediately  an  appearance  as  if 
the  line  had  been  broken  through,  and 
even  the  very  idea  or  appearance  of  that 
is  to  be  dreaded.     At  no  time  is  there  a 
greater  necessity  for  concentration  and 
holding  together,  and  at  no  time  is  this 
more  sensibly  felt  by  every  one  than  on  a 
retreat.    The  intention  always  is,  that  the 
wings  in  case  of  extremity  should  clore 
upon  the  centre ;  and  if,  on  account  of  sub- 
sistence and  roads,  the  retreat  has  to  be 
made  on  a  considerable  width  (of  country), 
still  the  movement  generally  ends  by  a 
concentration  on  the  centre.     If  we  add 
to  these  considerations  also  this  one,  that 
the  enemy  usually  advances  with  his 
principal  force  in  the  centre  and  with  the 
greatest  energy  against  the  centre,  we 
must  perceive  that  the  rear  guard  of  the 
centre  is  of  special  importance. 

Accordingly,  therefore,  a  special  corps 
should  always  be  thrown  forward  as  an 
advanced  guard  in  eveiy  case  where  one 
of  the  above  relations  occurs.  These 
relations  almost  fall  to  the  ground  if  the 
centre  is  not  stronger  than  the  wings, 
as,  for  example,  Macdonald  when  he 
advanced  against  Bliicher,  in  Silesia,  in 



[book  v. 

1813,  and  the  latter,  wlien  he  made  his 
moyement  towards  the  Elbe.  Both  of 
thorn  had  three  corps,  which  usually 
moved  in  three  columns  by  different 
roads,  the  heads  of  the  columns  in  line. 
On  this  account  no  mention  is  made  of 
their  having  had  advanced  guards. 

But  this  disposition  in  three  columns 
of  equal  strength  is  one  which  is  by  no 
means  to  be  recommended,  partly  on  that 
account,  and  also  because  the  division 
of  a  whole  army  into  three  parts  makes 
it  very  unmanageable,  as  stated  in  the 
fifth  chapter  of  the  third  book. 

When  the  whole  is  formed  into  a 
centre  with  two  wings  separate  from  it, 
which  we  have  represented  in  the  pre- 
ceding chapter  as  the  most  natural 
formation  as  long  as  there  is  no  par- 
ticular object  for  any  other,  the  corps 
forming  the  advanced  guard,  according 
to  the  simplest  notion  of  the  case,  will 
have  its  place  in  front  of  the  centre,  and 
therefore  before  the  line  which  forms 
the  front  of  the  wings ;  but  as  the  first 
object  of  corps  thrown  out  on  the  flanks 
is  to  perform  the  same  office  for  the  sides 
as  the  advanced  guard  for  the  front,  it 
wiU  very  often  happen  that  these  corps 
will  be  in  line  with  the  advanced  guard, 
or  even  still  further  thrown  forward, 
according  to  circumstances. 

With  respect  to  the  strength  of  an 
advanced  guard  we  have  little  to  say,  as 
now  very  properly  it  is  the  general 
custom  to  detail  for  that  duty  one  or 
more  component  parts  of  the  army  of 
the  first  class,  reinforced  by  part  of  the 
cavalry :  so  that  it  consists  of  a  corps,  if 
the  army  is  formed  in  corps ;  of  a  division, 
if  the  organisation  is  in  divisions. 

It  is  easy  to  perceive  that  in  this 
respect  also  the  great  number  of  higher 
members  or  divisions  is  an  advantage. 

How  far  the  advanced  guard  should  be 
pushed  to  the  front  must  entirely  depend 
on  circumstances ;  there  are  cases  in  which 
it  may  be  more  than  a  day's  march  in 
advance,  and  others  in  which  it  should 

be  immediately  before  the  front  of  the 
army.  If  we  find  that  in  most  cases 
between  one  and  three  miles  is  the 
distance  chosen,  that  shows  certainly 
that  circumstances  have  usually  pointed 
out  this  distance  as  the  best;  but  we 
cannot  make  of  it  a  rule  by  which  we  are 
to  be  always  guided. 

In  the  foregoing  observations  we  have 
lost  sight  altogether  of  outposts,  and 
therefore  we  must  now  return  to  them 

In  saying,  at  the  commencement,  that 
the  relations  between  outposts  and 
stationary  troops  is  similar  to  that 
between  advanced  guards  and  troops  in 
motion,  our  object  was  to  refer  the  con- 
ceptions back  to  their  origin,  and  keep 
them  distinct  in  future ;  but  it  is  clear 
that  if  we  confine  ourselves  strictly  to 
the  words  we  should  get  little  more  than 
a  pedantic  distinction. 

If  an  army  on  the  march  halts  at  night 
to  resume  the  march  next  morning,  the 
advanced  guard  must  naturally  do  the 
same,  and  always  organise  the  outpost 
duty,  required  both  for  its  own  security 
and  that  of  the  main  body,  without  on 
that  account  being  changed  from  an 
advanced  guard  into  a  line  of  outposts. 
To  satisfy  the  notion  of  that  transforma- 
tion, the  advanced  guard  would  have  to 
be  completely  broken  up  into  a  chain  of 
small  posts,  having  either  only  a  very 
small  K>rce,  or  none  at  all  in  a  form  ap» 
proaching  to  a  mass.  In  other  words,  the 
idea  of  a  line  of  outposts  must  predomi- 
nate over  that  of  a  concentrated  corps. 

The  shorter  the  time  of  rest  of  the 
army,  the  less  complete  does  the  covering 
of  the  army  require  to  be,  for  the  enemy 
has  hardly  time  to  learn  from  day  to  day 
what  is  covered  and  what  is  not.  The 
longer  the  halt  is  to  be  the  more  com- 
plete must  be  the  observation  and  cover- 
ing of  all  points  of  approach.  As  a  rule, 
therefore,  when  the  halt  is  long,  the  van- 
guard becomes  always  more  and  more 
extended  into  a  line  of  posts.    Whether 



the  change  becomes  complete,  or  whether 
the  idea  of  a  concentrated  corps  shall 
continue  uppermost,  depends  chiefly  on 
two  circumstances.  The  first  is  the 
proximity  of  the  contending  armies,  the 
second  is  the  nature  of  the  country. 

If  the  armies  are  very  close  in  com- 
parisoD  to  the  width  of  their  front,  then 
it  will  often  be  impossible  to  post  a  van- 
guard between  them,  and  the  armies  are 
obliged  to  place  their  dependence  on  a 
chain  of  outposts. 

A  concentrated  corps,  as  it  covers  the 
approaches  to  the  army  less  directly, 
generally  requires  more  time  and  space 
to  act  efficiently;  and  therefore,  if  the  army 
covers  a  great  extent  of  front,  as  in  canton- 
in  ants,  and  a  corps  standing  in  mass  is  to 
cover  all  the  avenues  of  approach,  it  is  ne- 
cessary that  we  should  be  at  a  considerable 
distance  from  the  enemy  ;  on  this  account 
winter  quarters,  for  instance,  are  gene- 
rally covered  by  a  cordon  of  posts. 

The  second  circumstance  is  the  nature 
of  the  country ;  where,  for  example,  any 
formidable  obstacle  of  ground  affords 
the  means  of  forming  a  strong  Une  of 
posts  with  but  few  troops,  we  should  not 
neglect  to  take  advantage  of  it. 

Lastly,  in  winter  quarters,  the  rigour 
of  the  season  may  also  be  a  reason  for 
breaking  up  the  advanced  guard  into  a 
line  of  posts,  because  it  is  easier  to  find 
shelter  for  it  in  that  way. 

The  use  of  a  reinforced  line  of  out- 
posts was  brought  to  great  perfection  by 
the  Anglo-Dutch  anny,  during  the  cam- 
paign of  1794  and  1795,  in  the  Nether- 
lands, when  the  line  of  defence  was 
formed  by  brigades  composed  of  all 
arms,  in  single  posts,  and  supported  by 
a  reserve.  Scharnhorst,  who  was  with 
that  army,  introduced  this  system  into 
the  Prussian  army  on  the  Passarge  in 
1 807 .  Elsewhere  in  moderti  times,  it  has 
been  little  adopted,  chiefly  because  the  wars 
have  been  too  rich  in  movement.  But  even 
when  there  has  been  occasion  for  its  use 
it  has  been  neglected,  as  for  instance,  by 
Murat,  at  Tarutino.  A  wider  extension  of 
his  defensive  line  would  have  spared 
him  the  loss  of  thirty  pieces  of  artillery 
in  a  combat  of  out-posts. 

It  cannot  be  disputed  that  in  certain 
circumstances,  great  advantages  may  be 
derived  from  this  system.  We  propose 
to  return  to  the  subject  on  another 



Ws  have  just  seen  how  the  security  of 
the  army  is  expected,  from  the  effect 
which  an  advanced  guard  and  flank  corps 
produce  on  an  advancing  enemy.  Such 
corps  are  always  to  be  considered  as  very 
weak  whenever  we  imagine  them  in 
conflict  with  the  main  body  of  the  enemy, 

and  therefore  a  peculiar  mode  of  using 
them  is  required,  that  they  may  fulfll  the 
purpose  for  which  they  are  intended, 
without  incurring  the  risk  of  the  serious 
loss  which  is  to  be  feared  from  this  dis" 
proportion  in  strength.. 

The  object  of  a  corps  of  this  descrip« 



[book  r. 

tion,  is  to   observe  the  enemy,  and  to 
delay  his  progress. 

For  the  first  of  these  purposes  a  smaller 
body  would  never  be  sufficient,  partly  be- 
cause it  would  be  more  easily  driven  back, 
partly  because  its  means  of  observation — 
that  is  its  eyes— could  not  reach  as  far. 

But  the  observation  must  be  carried  to 
a  high  point ;  the  enemy  must  be  made  to 
develop  his  whole  strength  before  such 
a  coi*ps,  and  thereby  reveal  to  a  certain  ex- 
tent, not  only  his  force,  but  also  his  plans. 

For  this  its  mere  presence  would  be 
sufficient,  and  it  would  only  be  necessary 
to  wait  and  see  the  measures  by  which 
the  enemy  seeks  to  drive  it  back,  and 
then  commence  its  retreat  at  once. 

But  further,  it  must  also  delay  the  ad- 
vance of  the  enemy,  and  that  implies 
actual  resistance. 

Now  how  can  we  conceive  this  waiting 
until  the  last  moment,  as  well  as  this 
resistance,  without  such  a  corps  being  in 
constant  danger  of  serious  loss  ?  Chiefly 
in  this  way,  that  the  enemy  himself  is 
preceded  by  an  advanced  guard,  and 
therefore  does  not  advance  at  once  with 
all  the  outflanking  and  overpowering 
weight  of  his  whole  force.  Now,  if  this 
advance  guard  is  also  horn,  the  commence- 
ment superior  to  our  advanced  corps,  as 
we  may  naturally  suppose  it  is  intended 
it  should  be,  and  if  the  enemy's  main 
body  is  also  nearer  to  his  advanced  guard 
than  we  are  to  ours,  and  if  that  main  body, 
being  already  on  the  march,  will  soon  be 
on  the  spot  to  support  the  attack  of  his 
advanced  guard  with  all  his  strength,  still 
this  first  act,  in  which  our  advanced 
corps  has  to  contend  with  the  enemy's 
advanced  guard,  that  is  with  a  force  not 
much  exceeding  its  own^  ensures  at  once 
a  certain  gain  of  time,  and  thus  allows  of 
our  watching  the  adversary's  movements 
for  some  time  without  endangering  our 
own  retreat. 

But  even  a  certain  amount  of  resistance 
which  such  a  corps  can  ofler  in  a  suitable 
position  is  not  attended  with  such  dis- 

advantage as  we  might  anticipate  in 
other  cases  through  the  disproportion  in 
the  strength  of  the  forces  engaged.  The 
chief  danger  in  a  contest  with  a  superior 
enemy  consists  always  in  the  possibility 
of  being  turned  and  placed  in  a  critical 
situation  by  the  enemy  enveloping  our 
position  ;  but  in  the  case  to  which  our 
attention  is  now  directed,  a  risk  of  this 
description  is  very  much  less,  owing  to  the 
advancing  enemy  never  knowing  exactly 
how  near  there  may  be  support  from 
the  main  body  of  his  opponent's  army 
itself,  which  may  place  his  advanced 
column  between  two  fires.  The  conse- 
quence is,  that  the  enemy  in  advancing 
keeps  the  heads  of  his  single  columns  as 
nearly  as  possible  in  line,  and  only  begins 
very  cautiously  to  attempt  to  turn  one  or 
other  wing  after  he  has  sufficiently  re- 
connoitred our  position.  While  the  ene* 
my  is  thus  feeling  about  and  moving 
guardedly,  the  corps  we  have  thrown  for- 
ward has  time  to  fall  back  before  it  is  in 
any  serious  danger. 

As  for  the  length  of  the  resistance  which 
such  a  corps  should  offer  against  the  attack 
in  front,  or  against  the  commencement 
of  any  turning  movement,  that  depends 
chiefly  on  the  nature  of  the  ground  and 
the  proximity  of  the  enemy's  supports. 
If  this  resistance  is  continued  beyond  its 
natural  measure,  either  from  want  of  judg- 
ment or  from  a  sacrifice  being  necessary 
in  order  to  g^ve  the  main  body  the  time 
it  requires,  the  consequence  must  always 
be  a  very  considerable  loss. 

It  is  only  in  rare  instances,  and  more 
especially  when  some  local  obstacle  is  fa- 
vourable, that  the  resistance  actually 
made  in  such  a  combat  can  be  of  import- 
ance, and  the  duration  of  the  little  battle 
of  such  a  corps  would  in  itself  be  hardly 
sufficient  to  gain  the  time  required  ;  that 
time  is  reidly  gained  in  a  threefold 
manner,  which  lies  in  the  nature  of  the 
thing,  viz. : 

1.  By  the  more  cautious,  and  conse* 
quently  slower  advance  of  the  enemy. 

CHAP,  vin.]        MODE  OF  A  CTION  OF  AD  VANCED  CORPS. 


2.  By  the  duration  of  the  actual 
resistance  offered. 

3.  By  the  retreat  itself. 

This  retreat  must  be  made  as  slowly 
as  is  consistent  with  safety.  If  the  country 
affords  good  positions  they  should  be 
made  use  of,  as  that  obliges  the  enemy 
to  organise  fresh  attacks  and  plans  for 
turning  moyements,  and  by  that  means 
more  time  is  gained.  Perhaps  in  a  new 
position  a  real  combat  even  may  again 
be  fought. 

We  see  that  the  opposition  to  the 
enemy's  progress  by  actual  fighting  and 
the  retreat  are  completely  combined  with 
one  another,  and  that  the  shortness  of 
the  duration  of  the  fights  must  be  made 
up  for  by  their  frequent  repetition. 

This  is  the  kind  of  resistance  which 
an  advanced  corps  should  offer.  The 
degree  of  effect  depends  chiefly  on  the 
strength  of  the  corps,  and  the  configu- 
ration of  the  country  ;  next  on  the 
length  of  the  road  which  the  corps 
has  to  march  over,  and  the  support 
which  it  receives. 

A  small  body,  even  when  the  forces  on 
both  sides  are  equal  can  never  make  as 
long  a  stand  as  a  considerable  corps ; 
for  the  larger  the  masses  the  more  time 
they  require  to  complete  their  action, 
of  whatever  kind  it  may  be.  In  a 
mountainous  country  the  mere  marching 
is  of  itself  slower,  the  resistance  in  the 
different  positions  longer,  and  attended 
with  less  danger,  and  at  every  step  fa- 
vourable positions  may  be  foimd. 

As  the  distance  to  which  a  corps  is 
pushed  forward  increases  so  will  the 
length  of  its  retreat,  and  therefore  also 
the  absolute  gain  of  time  by  its  resistance ; 
but  as  such  a  corps  by  its  position  has 
less  power  of  resistance  in  itself,  and 
is  less  easily  reinforced,  its  retreat  must 
be  made  more  rapidly  in  proportion 
than  if  it  stood  nearer  the  main  body, 
and  had  a  shorter  distance  to  traverse. 

The  support  and  means  of  rallying 
afforded  to  an  advanced  corps  must  na- 

turally have  an  influence  on  the  duration 
of  the  resistajice,  as  all  the  time  that 
prudence  requires  for  the  security  of  the 
retreat  is  so  much  taken  from  the  resist* 
ance,  and  therefore  diminishes  its  amount. 

There  is  a  marked  difference  in  the  time 
gained  by  the  resistance  of  an  advanced 
corps  when  the  enemy  makes  his  first 
appearance  after  midday ;  in  such  a  case 
the  length  of  the  night  is  so  much  addi- 
tional time  gained,  as  the  advance  is 
seldom  continued  throughout  the  night. 
Thus  it  was  that,  in  1815,  on  the  short 
distance  from  Charleroi  to  Idgny,  not 
more  than  two  miles,*  the  first  Prus- 
sian corps  under  General  Ziethen,  about 
30,000  strong,  against  Buonaparte  at 
the  head  of  120,000  men,  was  enabled  to 
gain  twenty-four  hours  for  the  Prussian 
army  then  engaged  in  concentrating. 
The  first  attack  was  made  on  General 
Ziethen  about  nine  o'clock  on  the 
morning  of  15th  June,  and  the  battle  of 
Ligny  did  not  commence  until  about 
two  on  the  afternoon  of  16th.  General  Zie- 
then suffered,  it  is  true,  very  considerable 
loss,  amounting  to  five  or  six  thousand 
men  killed,  wounded  or  prisoners. 

If  we  refer  to  experience  the  following 
are  the  results,  which  may  serve  as  a 
basis  in  any  calculations  of  this  kind. 

A  division  of  ten  or  twelve  thousand 
men,  with  a  proportion  of  cavalry,  a  day's 
march  of  three  or  four  miles  in  advance 
in  an  ordinary  country,  not  particularly 
strong,  will  be  able  to  detain  the  enemy 
(including  time  occupied  in  the  retreat) 
about  half  as  long  again  as  he  would 
otherwise  require  to  march  over  the  same 
ground,  but  if  the  division  is  only  a  mile 
in  advance,  then  the  enemy  ought  to  be  de- 
tained about  twice  or  three  times  as  long 
as  he  otherwise  would  be  on  the  march. 

Therefore  supposing  the  distance  to 
be  a  march  of  four  miles,  for  which 
usually  ten   hours    are   required,   then 

*  Here,  as  well  as  elsewhere,  by  the  word  mile, 
the  German  mile  is  meant.— Tb. 



[book  v. 

from  the  moment  that  the  enemy  appears 
in  force  in  front  of  the  advanced  corps, 
we  may  reckon  upon  fifteen  hours  before 
he  is  in  a  condition  to  attack  our  main 
body.  On  the  other  hand,  if  the  ad- 
vanced guard  is  posted  only  a  mile  in 
advance,  then  the  time  which  will  elapse 
before  our  army  can  be  attacked  will  be 
more  than  three  or  four  hours,  and  may 
very  easily  come  up  to  double  that,  for 
the  enemy  still  requires  j^ust  as  much  time 
to  mature  his  first  measures  against  our 
advanced  guard,  and  the  resistance  offered 
by  that  guard  in  its  original  position  will 
be  greater  than  it  would  be  in  a  position 
further  forward. 

The  consequence  is,  that  in  the  first  of 
these  supposed  cases  the  enemy  cannot 
easily  make  an  atta:jk  on  our  main  body 
on  the  same  day  that  he  presses  back 
the  advanced  corps,  and  this  exactly 
coincides  with  the  results  of  experience. 
Even  in  the  second  case  the  enemy  must 
succeed  in  driving  our  advanced  guard 
from  its  ground  in  the  first  half  of  the 
day  to  have  the  requisite  time  for  a 
general  action. 

As  the  night  comes  to  our  help  in  the 
first  of  these  supposed  cases,  we  see  how 
much  time  may  be  gained  by  an  advanced 
guard  thrown  further  forward. 

With  reference  to  corps  placed  on  the 
sides  or  flanks,  the  object  of  which  we 
have  before  explained,  the  mode  of  action 
is  in  most  cases  more  or  less  connected 
with  circumstances  which  belong  to  the 

province  of  immediate  application.  The 
simplest  way  is  to  look  upon  them  as 
advanced  guards  placed  on  the  sides, 
which  being  at  the  same  time  thrown 
out  somewhat  in  advance,  retreat  in  an 
oblique  direction  upon  the  army. 

As  these  corps  are  not  immediately 
in  the  front  of  the  army,  and  cannot 
be  so  easily  supported  as  a  reg^ar 
advanced  guard,  they  would,  therefore, 
be  exposed  to  greater  danger  if  it  was 
not  that  the  enemy's  offensive  power  in 
most  cases  is  somewhat  less  at  the  outer 
extremities  of  his  line,  and  in  the  worst 
cases  such  corps  have  sufficient  room  to 
give  way  without  exposing  the  army  so 
directly  to  danger  as  a  flying  advanced 
guard  would  in  its  rapid  retreat. 

The  most  usual  and  best  means  of 
supporting  an  advanced  corps  is  by  a 
considerable  body  of  cavalry,  for  which 
reason,  when  necessary  from  the  distance 
at  which  the  corps  is  advanced,  the  reserve 
cavalry  is  posted  between  the  main  body 
and  the  advanced  corps. 

The  conclusion  to  be  drawn  from  the 
preceding  reflections  is,  that  an  advanced 
corps  effects  more  by  its  presence  than 
by  its  efforts,  less  by  the  combats  in 
which  it  engages  than  by  the  possibility 
of  those  in  which  it  might  engage :  that 
it  should  never  attempt  to  stop  the 
enemy's  movements,  but  only  serve  like 
a  pendulum  to  moderate  and  regulate 
them,  so  that  they  may  be  made  matter 
of  calculation. 



Wb  are  now  considering  the  three  situa-  are  conditioned  by  place,  time,  and  the 
tions  of  an  army  outside  of  the  combat  number  of  the  effective  force.  All  those 
only  strategically,  that  is,  so  far  as  they      subjects  which    relate    to   the  internal 

CHAP.  IX.] 



arrangement  of  the  combat  and  the 
transition  into  the  state  of  combat  belong 
to  tactics. 

The  disposition  in  camps,  under  which 
we  mean  every  disposition  of  an  army 
except  in  quarters,  whether  it  be  in 
tents,  huts,  or  bivouac,  is  strategically 
completely  identical  with  the  combat  which 
is  contingent  upon  such  disposition. 
Tactically,  it  is  not  so  always,  for  we  can, 
for  many  reasons,  choose  a  site  for  en- 
camping which  is  not  precisely  identical 
with  the  proposed  field  of  battle.  Having 
already  said  all  that  is  necessary  on  the 
disposition  of  an  army,  that  is,  on  the 
position  of  the  different  parts,  we  have 
only  to  make  some  observations  on  camps 
in  connection  with  their  history. 

In  former  times,  that  is,  before  armies 
grew  once  more  to  considerable  dimen- 
sions, before  wars  became  of  greater 
duration,  and  their  partial  acts  brought 
into  connection  with  a  whole  or  general 
plan,  and  up  to  the  time  of  the  war  of 
the  French  Eevolution,  armies  always 
used  tents.  This  was  their  normal  state. 
With  the  commencement  of  the  mild 
season  of  the  year  they  left  their  quarters, 
and  did  not  again  take  them  up  until 
winter  set  in.  Winter  quarters  at  that 
time  must  to  a  certain  extent  be  looked 
upon  as  a  state  of  no  war,  for  in  them  the 
forces  were  neutralised,  the  whole  clock- 
work stopped,  quarters  to  refresh  an 
army  which  preceded  the  real  winter 
quarters,  and  other  temporary  canton- 
ments, for  a  short  time  within  contracted 
limits  were  transitional  and  exceptional 

This  is  not  the  place  to  enquire  how 
such  a  periodical  voluntary  neutralisation 
of  power  consisted  with,  or  is  now  con- 
sistent with  the  object  and  being  of  war ; 
we  shall  come  to  that  subject  hereafter. 
Enough  that  it  was  so. 

Hince  the  wars  of  the  French  Eevolu- 
tion, armies  have  completely  done  away 
with  the  tents  on  account  of  the  encum- 
brance they  cause.     Partly  it  is  found 

better  for  an  army  of  100,000  men  to 
have,  in  place  of  6,000  tent  horses, 
6,000  additional  cavalry,  or  a  couple  of 
hundred  extra  guns,  partly  it  has  been 
found  that  in  great  and  rapid  operations 
a  load  of  tents  is  a  hindrance,  and  of 
little  use. 

But  this  change  is  attended  with  two 
drawbacks,  viz.,  an  increase  of  casualties 
in  the  force,  and  greater  wasting  of  the 

However  slight  the  protection  afforded 
by  a  roof  of  common  tent  cloth, — it  cannot 
be  denied  that  on  a  long  continuance  it  is 
great  relief  to  the  troops.  For  a  single 
day  the  difference  is  small,  because  a 
tent  is  little  protection  against  wind  and 
cold,  and  does  not  completely  exclude 
wet  \  but  this  small  difference,  if  repeated 
two  or  three  hundred  times  in  a  year, 
becomes  important.  A  greater  loss 
through  sickness  is  just  a  natural  result. 

How  the  devastation  of  the  country  is 
increased  through  the  want  of  tents  for 
the  troops  requires  no  explanation. 

One  would  suppose  that  on  account 
of  these  two  reactionary  influences  the 
doing  away  with  tents  must  have 
diminished  again  the  energy  of  war  in 
another  way,  that  troops  must  remain 
longer  in  quarters,  and  from  want  of  the 
requisites  for  encampment  must  forego 
many  positions  which  would  have  been 
possible  had  tents  been  forthcoming. 

This  would  indeed  have  been  the  case 
had  there  not  been,  in  the  same  epoch  of 
time,  an  enormous  revolution  in  war 
generally,  which  swallowed  up  in  itself 
all  these  smaller  subordinate  influences. 

The  elementary  Are  of  war  has  become 
so  overpowering,  its  energy  so  extra- 
ordinary, that  these  regular  periods  of 
rest  also  have  disappeared,  and  every 
power  presses  forward  with  persistent 
force  towards  the  great  decision,  which 
will  be  treated  of  more  fully  in  the  ninth 
book.  Under  these  circumstances,  there- 
fore, any  question  about  effeotson  an  army 
from  the  discontinuance  of  the  use    of 



[book  ▼. 

tents  in  the  field  is  quite  tlirown  into 
the  shade.  Troops  now  occupy  hiits,  or 
biyouac  under  ihe  canopy  of  heaven, 
without  regard  to  season  of  the  year, 
weather,  or  locality,  just  according  as 
the  general  plan  and  object  of  the  cam- 
paign require. 

Whether  war  will  in  the  future  con- 
tinue to  maintain,  under  all  circumstances 
and  at  all  times,  this  energy,  is  a  ques- 
tion we  shall  consider  hereafter  ;  where 
this  energy  is  wanting,  the  want  of  tents 
is  calculated  to  exercise  some  influence 

on  the  conduct  of  war;  but  that  this 
reaction  will  ever  be  strong  enough  to 
bring  back  the  use  of  tents  is  very 
doubtful,  because  now  that  much  wider 
limits  have  been  opened  for  the  elements 
of  war  it  will  never  return  within  its  old 
narrow  bounds,  except  occasionally  for  a 
certain  time  and  under  certain  circum- 
stances, only  to  break  out  again  with  the 
all-powerful  force  of  its  nature.  Perma- 
nent arrangements  for  an  army  must, 
therefore,  be  based  only  upon  that 



Marches  are  a  mere  passage  from  one 
position  to  another  under  two  primary 

The  first  is,  the  due  care  of  the  troops, 
so  that  no  forces  shall  be  squandered 
uselessly  when  they  might  be  usefully 
employed;  the  second,  is  precision  in 
the  movements,  so  that  they  may  fit 
exactly.  If  we  marched  100,000  men 
in  one  single  column,  that  is,  upon 
one  road  without  intervals  of  time,  the 
rear  of  the  column  would  never  arrive  at 
the  proposed  destination  on  the  same 
day  with  the  head  of  the  column ;  we 
must  either  advance  at  an  imusually  slow 
pace,  or  the  mass  would,  like  a  thread  of 
water,  disperse  itself  in  drops ;  and  this 
dispersion,  together  with  the  excessive 
exertion  laid  upon  those  in  rear  owing 
to  the  length  of  the  column,  would 
soon  throw  everything  into  confusion. 

If  from  this  extreme  we  take  the 
opposite  direction,  we  find  that  the 
smaller  the  mass  of  troops  in  one  column 
the  greater  the  ease  and  precision  with 
which  the  march  can  be  performed.  The 

result  of  this  is  the  need  of  a  division 
quite  irrespective  of  that  division  of  an 
army  in  separate  parts  which  belongs 
to  its  position  ;  therefore,  although  the 
division  into  columns  of  march  ori- 
ginates in  the  strategic  disposition  in 
general,  it  does  not  do  so  in  every  par- 
ticular case.  A  gpreat  mass  which  is  to 
be  concentrated  at  any  one  point  must 
necessarily  be  divided  for  the  march. 
But  even  if  a  disposition  of  the  army  in 
separate  parts  causes  a  march  in  separate 
divisions,  sometimes  the  conditions  of  the 
primitive  disposition,  sometimes  those  of 
the  march,  are  paramount.  For  instance, 
if  the  disposition  of  the  troops  is  one 
made  merely  for  rest,  one  in  which  a 
battle  is  not  expected,  then  the  conditions 
of  the  march  predominate,  and  these 
conditions  are  chiefly  the  choice  of  g^ood, 
well-frequented  roads.  Keeping  in  view 
this  diflerence,  we  choose  a  road  in  the 
one  case  on  account  of  the  quarters 
and  camping  g^und,  in  the  other  we 
take  the  quarters  and  camps  such  as  they 
are,  on  account  of  the  road.     When  a 

OHAP.  X.] 



battle  is  expected,  and  everytliing  depends 
on  our  reacliing  a  particular  point  with  a 
mass  of  troops,  then  we  should  think 
nothing  of  getting  to  that  point  by  even 
the  worst  by-roads,  if  necessary ;  if,  on  the 
other  hand,  we  are  still  on  the  journey  to 
the  theatre  of  war,  then  the  nearest  g^eat 
roads  are  selected  for  the  columns,  and 
we  look  out  for  the  best  quarters  and 
camps  that  can  be  got  near  them. 

Whether  the  march  is  of  the  one  kind 
or  the  other,  if  there  is  a  possibility  of  a 
combat,  that  is  within  the  whole  region 
of  actual  war,  it  is  an  invariable  rule  in 
the  modem  art  of  war  to  organise  the 
columns  so  that  the  mass  of  troops  com- 
posing each  column  is  fit  of  itself  to  en- 
gage in  an  independent  combat.  This 
condition  is  satisfied  by  the  combina- 
lion  of  the  three  arms,  by  an  organised* 
subdivision  of  the  whole,  and  by  the 
appointment  of  a  competent  commander. 
Marches,  therefore,  have  been  the  chief 
cause  of  the  new  order  of  battle,  and  they 
profit  most  by  it. 

When  in  the  middle  of  the  last  century, 
especially  in  the  theatre  of  war  in  which 
Frederick  II.  was  eiigaged,  generals 
began  to  look  upon  movement  as  a 
principle  belong^ug  to  fighting,  and  to 
think  of  gaining  the  victory  by  the  effect 
of  unexpected  movements,  the  want  of 
an  organised  order  of  battle  caused  the 
most  complicated  and  laborious  evolu- 
tions on  a  march.  In  carrying  out  a 
movement  near  the  enemy,  an  army 
ought  to  be  always  ready  to  fight ;  but 
at  that  time  they  were  never  ready  to 
fight  unless  the  whole  army  was  collec- 
tively present,  because  nothing  less  than 
the  army  constituted  a  complete  whole. 
In  a  march  to  a  flank,  the  second  line, 
in  order  to  be  always  at  the  regulated 
distance,  that  is  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile 
from  the  first,  had  to  march  up  hill  and 
down  dale,  which  demanded  immense  ex- 
ertion, as  well  as  a  great  stock  of  local 
knowledge ;  for  where  can  one  find  two 
good  roads  running  parallel  at  a  distance 

of  a  quarter  of  a  mile  from  each  other  ? 
The  cavalry  on  the  wings  had  to  en- 
counter the  same  difficulties  when  the 
march  was  direct  to  the  front.  There 
was  other  difficulty  with  the  artillery, 
which  required  a  road  for  itself,  pro- 
tected by  infantry  ;  for  the  lines  of 
infantry  required  to  be  continuous 
lines,  and  the  artillery  increased  the 
length  of  their  already  long  trailing 
columns  still  more,  and  threw  all  their 
regulated  distances  into  disorder.  It  is 
only  necessary  to  read  the  dispositions 
for  marches  in  Tempelhof 's  History  of  the 
Seven  Years'  War,  to  be  satisfied  of  all 
these  incidents  and  of  the  restraints  thus 
imposed  on  the  action  of  war. 

But  since  then  the  modem  art  of  war 
has  subdivided  armies  on  a  reg^ar 
principle,  so  that  each  of  the  principal 
pcirts  forms  in  itself  a  complete  whole,  of 
small  proportions,  but  capable  of  acting 
in  battle  precisely  like  the  g^eat  whole, 
except  in  one  respect,  which  is,  that  the 
duration  of  its  action  must  be  shorter. 
The  consequence  of  this  change  is,  that 
even  when  it  is  intended  that  the  whole 
force  should  take  part  in  a  battle,  it 
is  no  longer  necessary  to  have  the 
columns  so  close  to  each  other  that  they 
may  unite  before  the  commencement  of 
the  combat ;  it  is  sufficient  now  if  the 
concentration  takes  place  in  the  course  of 
the  action. 

The  smaller  a  body  of  troops  the  more 
easily  it  can  be  moved,  and  therefore  the 
less  it  requires  that  subdivision  which  is 
not  a  result  of  the  separate  disposition, 
but  of  the  unwieldiness  of  the  mass. 
A  small  body,  therefore,  can  march  upon 
one  road,  and  if  it  is  to  advance  on 
several  lines  it  easily  finds  roads  near 
each  other  which  are  as  good  as  it 
requires.  The  greater  the  mass  the 
greater  becomes  the  necessity  for  sub- 
dividing, the  greater  becomes  the  number 
of  columns,  and  the  want  of  mado  roads, 
or  even  g^eat  high  roads,  consequently 
also  the  distance  of  the  columns  from 


Oir  TFAR. 

[book  v. 

each  other.  Now  the  danger  of  this  suh- 
dmsion  is — arithmetically  expressed — 
in  an  inverse  ratio  to  the  necessity  for  it. 
The  smaller  the  parts  are,  the  more 
readily  must  they  be  able  to  render 
assistance  to  each  other  ;  the  larger  they 
are,  the  longer  they  can  be  left  to  depend 
on  themselves.  If  we  only  call  to  mind 
what  has  been  said  in  the  preceding  book 
on  this  subject,  and  also  consider  that  in 
cultivated  countries  at  a  few  miles 
distance  from  the  main  road  there  are 
always  other  tolerably  good  roads  run- 
ning in  a  parallel  direction,  it  is  easy  to 
see  that,  in  regulating  a  march,  there  are 
no  great  difficulties  which  make  rapidity 
and  precision  in  the  advance  incompatible 
with  the  proper  concentration  offeree. — 
In  a  mountainous  country  parallel  roads 
are  both  scarce,  and  the  difficulties  of 
communication  between  them  great ;  but 
the  defensive  powers  of  a  single  column 
are  very  much  greater. 

In  order  to  make  this  idea  clearer  let 
us  look  at  it  for  a  moment  in  a  concrete 

Adivisionof  8,000men,with  its  artillery 
and  other  carriages,  takes  up,  as  we  know 
by  experience  in  ordinary  cases,  a  space  of 
one  league;  if,  therefore,  two  divisions 
march  one  after  the  other  on  the  same  road, 
the  second  arrives  one  hour  after  the  first ; 
but  now,  as  said  in  the  sixth  chapter  of 
the  fourth  book,  a  division  of  this  strength 
is  quite  capable  of  maintaining  a  combat 
for  several  hours,  even  against  a  superior 
force,  and,  therefore,  supposing  the 
worst,  that  is,  supposing  the  first  had  to 
commence  a  fight  instantaneously,  still 
the  second  division  would  not  arrive  too 
late.  Further,  within  a  league  right  and 
left  of  the  road  on  which  we  march,  in 
the  cultivated  countries  of  central  Europe 
there  are,  generally,  lateral  roads  which 
can  be  used  for  a  march,  so  that  there  is 
no  necessity  to  go  across  country,  as  was 
so  often  done  in  the  Seven  Years'  War. 

Again,  it  is  known  by  experience 
that  the  head  of  a  column  composed  of 

four  divisions  and  a  reserve  of  cavalry, 
even  on  indifferent  roads,  generally  gets 
over  a  march  of  three  miles  in  eight 
hours;  now,  if  we  reckon  for  each 
division  one  league  in  depth,  and  the 
same  for  the  reserve  cavalry  and  artillery, 
then  the  whole  march  will  last  thirteen 
hours.  This  is  no  great  length  of  time, 
and  yet  in  this  case  forty  thousand  men 
would  have  marched  over  the  same  road. 
But  with  such  a  mass  as  this  we  can 
make  use  of  lateral  roads,  which  are  to  be 
found  at  a  greater  distance,  and  there- 
fore easily  shorten  the  march.  If  the 
mass  of  troops  marching  on  the  same 
road  is  still  greater  than  above  supposed, 
then  it  is  a  case  in  which  the  arrival  of 
the  whole  on  the  same  day  is  no  longer 
indispensable,  for  such  masses  never  give 
battle  now  the  moment  they  meet,  usually 
not  until  the  next  day. 

"We  have  introduced  these  concrete 
cases,  not  as  exhausting  considerations  of 
this  kind,  but  to « make  ourselves  more 
intelligible,  and  by  means  of  this  glance 
at  the  results  of  experience  to  show  that 
in  the  present  mode  of  conducting  war 
the  organisation  of  marches  no  longer 
offers  such  great  difficulties;  that  the 
most  rapid  marches,  executed  with  the 
greatest  precision,  no  longer  require 
either  that  peculiar  skill  or  that  exact 
knowledge  of  the  country  which  was 
needed  for  Frederick's  rapid  and  exact 
marches  in  the  Seven  Years'  War. 
Through  the  existing  organisation  of 
armies,  they  rather  go  on  now  almost  of 
themselves,  at  least  without  any  great  pre- 
paratory plans.  In  times  past,  battles  were 
conducted  by  mere  word  of  command, 
but  marches  required  a  regular  plan, 
now  the  order  of  battle  requires  the  lat- 
ter, and  for  a  march  the  word  of  com- 
mand almost  suffices. 

As  is  well  known,  all  marches  are  either 
perpendicular  [to  the  front]  or  parallel. 
The  latter,  also  called  flank  marches,  alter 
the  geometrical  position  of  the  divisions ; 
those  parts  which,  in  position,  were  in 




line,  will  follow  one  another,  and  viee 
wrta.  Now,  although  the  line  of  march 
may  he  at  any  angle  with  the  front, 
still  the  order  of  the  march  must  de- 
cidedly be  of  one  or  other  of  these 

This  geometrical  alteration  could  only 
be  completely  carried  out  by  tactics,  and 
by  it  only  through  the  file-march  as 
it  is  called,  which,  with  great  masses,  is 
impossible.  Far  less  is  it  possible  for  stra- 
tegy to  do  it.  The  parts  which  changed 
their  geometrical  relation  in  the  old 
order  of  battle  were  only  the  centre  and 
wings  ;  in  the  new  they  are  the  divisions 
of  the  first  rank — corps,  divisions,  or 
even  brigades,  according  to  the  organisa- 
tion of  the  army.  Now,  the  consequences 
above  deduced  from  the  new  order  of 
battle  have  an  influence  here  also,  for  as  it 
is  no  longer  so  necessary,  as  formerly, 
that  the  whole  army  shoidd  be  assembled 
before  action  commences,  therefore  the 
greater  care  is  taken  that  those  troops 
which  march  together  form  one  whole 
(a  unit).  If  two  divisions  were  so  placed 
that  one  formed  the  reserve  to  the  other, 
and  that  they  were  to  advance  against 
the  enemy  upon  two  roads,  no  one  would 
think  of  sending  a  portion  of  each  divi- 
sion by  each  of  the  roads,  but  a  road 
wotdd  at  once  be  assigned  to  each  divi- 
sion ;  they  would  therefore  march  side  by 
side,  and  each  general  of  division  would 
be  left  to  provide  a  reserve  for  himself  in 
case  of  a  combat.  Unity  of  command  is 
much  more  important  than  the  original 
geometrical  relation ;  if  the  divisions 
reach  their  new  position  without  a  com- 
bat, they  can  resume  their  previous  re- 
lations. Much  less  if  two  divisions, 
standing  together,  are  to  make  a  parallel 
(flank)  march  upon  two  roads  should  we 
think  of  placing  the  second  line  or  re- 
serve of  each  division  on  the  rear  road ; 
instead  of  that,  we  should  allot  to  each 
of  the  divisions  one  of  the  roads,  and 
therefore  during  the  march  consider  one 
division  as  forming  the  reserve  to  the 

VOL.  II. 

other.  If  an  army  in  four  divisions,  of 
which  three  form  the  front  line  and  the 
fourth  the  reserve,  is  to  march  against 
the  enemy  in  that  order,  then  it  is  natural 
to  assign  a  road  to  each  of  the  divisions 
in  front,  and  cause  the  reserve  to  follow 
the  centre.  If  there  are  not  three  roads 
at  a  suitable  distance  apart,  then  we  need 
not  hesitate  at  once  to  march  upon  two 
roads,  as  no  serious  inconvenience  can 
arise  from  so  doing. 

It  is  the  same  in  the  opposite  case,  the 
flank  march. 

Another  point  is  the  march  ofiP  of 
columns  from  the  right  flank  or  left. 
In  parallel  marches  (marches  to  a  flank) 
the  thing  is  plain  in  itself.  No  one 
would  march  off  from  the  right  to 
make  a  movement  to  the  left  flank.  In 
a  march  to  the  front  or  rear,  the  order  of 
march  should  properly  be  chosen  accord- 
ing to  the  direction  of  the  lines  of  roads 
in  respect  to  the  future  line  of  deploy- 
ment. This  may  also  be  done  frequently 
in  tactics,  as  its  spaces  are  smaller,  and 
therefore  a  survey  of  the  geometrical 
relations  can  be  more  easily  taken. 
In  strategy  it  is  quite  impossible,  and 
therefore  although  we  have  seen  here  and 
there  a  certain  analogy  brought  over 
into  strategy  from  tactics,  it  was  mere 
pedantry.  Formerly  the  whole  order 
of  march  was  a  purely  t€U)tical  aflair, 
because  the  army  on  a  march  re- 
mained always  an  indivisible  whole, 
and  looked  to  nothing  but  a  combat 
of  the  whole  ;  yet  nevertheless  Schwerin, 
for  example,  when  he  marched  off  from 
his  position  near  Brandeis,  on  the  5th  of 
May,  could  not  tell  whether  his  future 
field  of  battle  would  be  on  his  right  or 
left,  and  on  this  account  he  was  obliged 
to  make  his  famous  countermarch. 

If  an  army  in  the  old  order  of  battle 
advanced  against  the  enemy  in  four 
columns,  the  cavalry  in  the  first  and 
second  lines  on  each  wing  formed  the 
two  exterior  columns,  the  two  lines  of 
infantry  composing  the  wings  formed  the 



[book  y. 

two  central  columns.  Now  these  columns 
could  march  off  all  from  the  right  or  all 
from  the  left,  or  the  right  wing  from  the 
right,  the  left  wing  from  the  left,  or  the 
left  from  the  right,  and  the  right  from  the 
left.  In  the  latter  case  it  would  have 
been  called  **  double  column  from  the 
centre."  But  all  these  forms,  although 
they  ought  to  have  had  a  relation  directly 
to  the  future  deployment,  were  really  all 
quite  indifferent  in  that  respect.  When 
Frederick  the  Great  entered  on  the  battle 
of  Leuthen,  his  army  had  been  marched 
off  by  wings  from  the  right  in  four 
columns,  therefore  the  wonderful  transi- 
tion to  a  march  off  in  order  of  battle,  as 
described  by  all  writers  of  history,  was 
done  with  the  greatest  ease,  because  it 
happened  that  the  king  chose  to  attack 
the  left  wing  of  the  Austrians ;  had  he 
wanted  to  turn  their  right,  he  must  have 
countermarched  his  army,  as  he  did  at 

If  these  forms  did  not  meet  that  ob- 
ject in  those  days,  they  would  be  mere 
trifling  as  regards  it  now.  We  know 
now  just  as  little  as  formerly  the  situa- 
tion of  the  future  battle-field  in  refer- 
ence to  the  road  we  take ;  and  the  little 
loss  of  time  occasioned  by  marching  off 
in  inverted  order  is  now  infinitely  less  im- 
portant than  formerly.  The  new  order  of 
battle  has  frirther  a  beneficial  influence  in 
this  respect,  that  it  is  now  immaterial 
which  division  arrives  first  or  which 
brigade  is  brought  under  fire  first. 

Under  these  circumstances  the  march 
off  from  the  right  or  left  is  of  no  conse- 
quence now,  otherwise  than  that  when  it 
is  done  alternately  it  tends  to  equalise  the 
fatigue  which  the  troops  undergo.  This, 
which  is  the  only  object,  is  certainly  an 
important  one  for  retaining  both  modes 
of  marching  off  with  large  bodies. 

The  advance  from  the  centre  as  a  de- 
finite evolution  naturally  comes  to  an  end 
on  account  of  what  has  just  been  stated, 

and  can  only  take  place  accidentally.  An 
advance  frora  the  centre  by  one  and  the 
same  column  in  strategy  is,  in  point  of 
fact,  nonsense,  for  it  supposes  a  double 

The  order  of  march  belongs,  more- 
over, more  to  the  province  of  tac- 
tics than  to  that  of  strategy,  for  it 
is  the  division  of  a  whole  into  parts, 
which,  after  the  march,  are  once  more 
to  resume  the  state  of  a  whole.  As, 
however,  in  modern  warfare  the  formal 
connection  of  the  parts  is  not  required  to 
be  constcmtly  kept  up  during  a  march, 
but  on  the  contrary,  the  parts  during  the 
march  may  become  farther  separated, 
and  therefore  be  left  more  to  their  own  re- 
sources, therefore  it  is  much  easier  now  for 
independent  combats  to  happen  in  which 
the  parts  have  to  sustain  themselves,  and 
which,  therefore  must  be  reckoned  as 
complete  combats  in  themselves,  and  on 
that  account  we  have  thought  it  neces- 
sary to  say  so  much  on  the  subject. 

Further,  an  order  of  battle  in  three 
parts  in  juxtaposition  being,  as  we  have 
seen  in  the  second*  chapter  of  this  book, 
the  most  natural  where  no  special  object 
predominates,  from,  that  results  also  that 
the  order  of  march  in  three  columns  is 
the  most  natural 

It  only  remains  to  observe  that  the 
notion  of  a  column  in  strategy  does  not 
found  itself  mainly  on  the  line  of  march 
of  one  body  of  troops.  The  term  is  used 
in  strategy  to  designate  masses  of  troops 
marching  on  the  same  road  on  different 
days  as  well.  For  the  division  into 
columns  is  made  chiefly  to  shorten  and 
facilitate  the  march,  as  a  smcJl  number 
marches  quicker  and  more  conveniently 
than  large  bodies.  But  this  end  may, 
be  attained  by  marching  troops  on 
different  days,,  as  well  as  by  marching 
them  on  different  roads. 

*  6Ui  Chap.  P--TB. 

CHAP.  XI.] 




MARCHES  (Continued). 

Besfectinq  the  length  of  a  march  and 
the  time  it  requires,  it  is  natural  for  us 
to  depend  on  the  general  restdte  of  ex- 

For  our  modem  armies  it  has  long 
been  settled  that  a  march  of  three  miles 
should  be  the  usual  day's  work  which, 
on  long  distances,  may  be  set  down  as 
an  average  distance  of  two  miles  per  day, 
allowing  for  the  necessary  rest  days,  to 
make  such  repairs  of  all  kinds  as  may 
be  required. 

Such  a  march  in  a  level  country,  and 
on  tolerable  roads  will  occupy  a  division 
of  8,000  men  from  eight  to  ten  hours;  in 
a  hilly  country  from  ten  to  twelve  hours. 
If  several  divisions  are  united  in  one 
column,  the  march  will  occupy  a  couple 
of  hours  longer,  without  taking  into  ac- 
count the  intervals  which  must  elapse 
between  the  departure  of  the  first  and 
succeeding  divisions. 

We  see,  therefore,  that  the  day  is  pretty 
well  occupied  with  such  a  march ;  that  the 
fatigue  endured  by  a  soldier  loaded  with 
his  pack  for  ten  or  twelve  hours  is  not  to 
be  judged  of  by  that  of  an  ordinary 
journey  of  three  miles  on  foot  which  a 
person,  on  tolerable  roads,  might  easily 
get  over  in  five  hours. 

The  longest  marches  to  be  found  in  ex- 
ceptional instances  are  of  five,  or  at  most 
six  miles  a  day ;  for  a  continuance  four. 

A  march  of  five  miles  requires  a  halt 
for  several  hours ;  and  a  division  of  8,000 
men  will  not  do*it,  even  on  a  good  road, 
in  less  than  sixteen  hours.  If  the  march 
is  one  of  six  miles,  and  that  there  are 
several  divisions  in  the  column,  we  may 
reckon  upon  at  least  twenty  hours. 

We  here  mean  the  march  of  a  number 

of  whole  divisions  at  once,  from  one  camp 
to  another,  for  that  is  the  usual  form  of 
marches  made  on  a  theati'e  of  war.  When 
several  divisions  are  to  march  in  one 
column,  the  first  division  to  move  is  as- 
sembled and  marched  off  earlier  than 
the  rest,  and  therefore  arrives  at  its 
camping  ground  so  much  the  sooner. 
At  the  same  time  this  difference  can  still 
never  amount  to  the  whole  time,  which 
corresponds  to  the  depth  of  a  division  on 
the  line  of  march,  and  which  is  so  weU  ex- 
pressed in  French,  as  the  time  it  requires 
for  its  decoulement  (nmning  down).  The 
soldier  is,  therefore,  saved  very  little 
fatigue  in  this  way,  and  every  march  is 
very  much  lengthened  in  duration  in  pro- 
portion as  the  number  of  troops  to  be 
moved  increases.  To  assemble  and  march 
off  the  different  brigades  of  a  division, 
in  like  manner  at  different  times,  is  seldom 
practicable,  and  for  that  reason  we  have 
taken  the  division  itself  as  the  unit. 

In  long  distances,  when  troops  march 
from  one  cantonment  into  another,  and 
go  over  the  road  in  small  bodies,  and 
without  points  of  assembly,  the  distance 
they  go  over  daily  may  certainly  be  in- 
creased, and  in  point  of  fact  it  is  so,  from 
the  necessary  detours  in  getting  to  quar- 

But  those  marches,  on  which  troops 
have  to  assemble  daily  in  divisions,  or 
perhaps  in  corps,  and  have  an  additional 
move  to  get  into  quarters,  take  up  the 
most  time,  and  are  only  advisable  in  rich 
countries,  and  where  the  masses  of  troops 
are  not  too  large,  as  in  such  cases  the 
greater  facilility  of  subsistence  and  the 
advantage  of  the  shelter  which  the  troops 
obtain  compensate    sufficiently   for   the 



[book  ▼. 

fatig;ue  of  a  longer  march.  The  Prussian 
army  undoubtedly  pursued  a  wrong  sys- 
tem in  their  retreat  in  1806  in  taking  up 
quarters  for  the  troops  every  night  on 
account  of  subsistence.  They  could  have 
procured  subsistence  in  bivouacs,  and  the 
army  would  not  have  been  obliged  to 
spend  fourteen  days  in  getting  over  fifty 
miles  of  ground,  which,  after  all,  they 
only  accomplished  by  extreme  efforts. 

If  a  bad  road  or  a  hilly  country 
has  to  be  marched  over,  all  these 
calculations  as  to  time  and  distance 
undergo  such  modifications  that  it  is 
difficult  to  estimate,  with  any  certainty, 
in  any  particular  case,  the  time  required 
for  a  march ;  much  less,  thon^  can  any 
general  theory  be  established.  All  that 
theory  can  do  is  to  direct  attention  to  the 
liability  to  error  with  which  we  are  here 
beset.  To  avoid  it  the  most  careful  cal- 
culation is  necessary,  and  a  large  margin 
for  unforeseen  delays.  The  influence  of 
weather  and  condition  of  the  troops  also 
come  into  consideration. 

Since  the  doing  away  with  tents  and 
the  introductioQ  of  the  system  of  subsist- 
ing troops  by  compulsory  demands  for 
provisions  on  the  spot, the  baggage  of  an 
army  has  been  very  sensibly  diminished, 
and  as  a  natural  and  most  important 
consequence  we  look  first  for  an  accelera- 
tion in  the  movements  of  an  army,  and, 
therefore,  of  course,  an  increase  in  the 
length  of  the  day's  march.  This,  how- 
ever, is  only  realised  under  certain 

Marches  within  the  theatre  of  war 
have  been  very  little  accelerated  by  this 
means,  for  it  is  well  known  that  for 
many  years  whenever  the  object  required 
marches  of  unusual  length  it  has  always 
been  the  practice  to  leave  the  baggage 
behind  or  send  it  on  beforehand,  and, 
generally,  to  keep  it  separate  from  the 
troops  during  the  continuance  of  such 
movements,  and  it  had  in  general  no 
influence  on  the  movement,  because  as 
soon  as  it  was  out  of  the  way,  and  ceased 

to  be  a  direct  impediment,  no  further 
trouble  was  taken  about  it,  whatever 
damage  it  might  suffer  in  that  way. 
Marches,  therefore,  took  place  in  the 
Seven  Years'  War,  which  even  now 
cannot  be  surpassed ;  as  an  instance  we 
cite  Lascy's  march  in  1760,  when  he  had 
to  support  the  diversion  of  the  Russians 
on  Berlin,  on  that  occasion  he  got  over 
the  road  from  Schweidnitz  to  Berlin 
through  Lusatia,  a  distance  of  forty-five 
miles,  in  ten  days,  averaging,  therefore, 
4^  miles  a  day,  which,  for  a  corps  of 
15,000,  would  be  an  extraordinary  march 
even  in  these  days. 

On  the  other  hand,  through  the  new 
method  of  supplying  troops  the  move- 
ments of  armies  have  acquired  a  new 
retarding  principle.  If  troops  have  partly 
to  procure  supplies  for  themselves,  which 
often  happens,  then  they  require  more 
time  for  the  service  of  supply  than  would 
be  necessary  merely  to  receive  rations 
from  provision  wagons.  Besides  this, 
on  marches  of  considerable  duration 
troops  cannot  be  encamped  in  such  large 
numbers  at  any  one  point ;  the  divisions 
must  be  separated  from  one  another,  in 
order  the  more  easily  to  manage  for 
them.  Lastly,  it  almost  always  happens 
that  it  is  necessary  to  place  part  of 
the  army,  particularly  the  cavalry,  in. 
quarters.  All  this  occasions  on  the  whole 
a  sensible  delay.  We  find,  therefore, 
that  Buonaparte  in  pursuit  of  the 
Prussians  in  1806,  with  a  view  to  cut 
off  their  retreat,  and  Bliicher  in  1815,  in 
pursuit  of  the  French,  with  a  like  object, 
only  accomplished  thirty  miles  in  ten 
days,  a  rate  which  Frederick  the  Great 
was  able  to  attain  in  his  marches  from 
Saxony  to  Silesia  and  back,  notwith- 
standing all  the  train  that  he  had  to 
carry  with  him. 

At  the  same  time  the  mobility  and 
handiness,  if  we  may  use  such  an 
expression,  of  the  parts  of  an  army,  botli 
great  and  small,  on  the  theatre  of  war 
have    very  perceptibly  gained   by  the 

csAF.  zn.] 



diminution  of  baggage.  Partly,  inasmuch 
as  while  the  number  of  cavalrj  and  guns 
is  the  same,  there  are  fewer  horses,  and 
therefore,  there  is  less  forage  required ; 
partly,  inasmuch  as  we  are  no  longer  so 
much  tied  to  any  one  position,  because 
we  have  not  to  be  for  ever  looking 
after  a  long  train  of  baggage  dragging 
after  us. 

Marches  such  as  that,  which,  after 
raising  the  siege  of  Olmiitz,  1758, 
Frederick  the  Great  made  with  4,000 
carriages,  the  escort  of  which  employed 
half  his  army  broken  up  into  single  bat- 

talions and  companies,  could  not  be 
effected  now  in  presence  of  even  the  most 
timid  adversary. 

On  long  marches,  as  from  the  Tagus 
to  the  Niemen,  that  lightening  of  the 
army  is  more  sensibly  felt,  for  although 
the  usual  measure  of  the  day's  march 
remains  the  same  on  account  of  the  car- 
riages still  remaining,  yet,  in  cases  of 
great  urgency,  we  can  exceed  that  usual 
measure  at  a  less  sacrifice. 

Generally  the  diminution  of  baggage 
tends  more  to  a  saving  of  power  than  to 
the  acceleration  of  movement. 


MARCHES  (Contixited). 

Ws  have  now  to  consider  the  destructive 
influence  which  marches  have  upon  an 
army.  It  is  so  great  that  it  may  be  re- 
garded as  an  active  principle  of  destruc- 
tion, just  as  much  as  the  combat. 

One  single  moderate  march  does  not 
wear  down  the  instrument,  but  a  succes- 
sion of  even  moderate  marches  is  certain 
to  tell  upon  it,  and  a  succession  of  severe 
ones  will,  of  course,  do  so  much  sooner. 

At  the  actual  scene  of  war,  want  of 
food  and  shelter,  bad  broken-up  roads, 
and  the  nec^assity  of  being  in  a  perpetual 
state  of  readiness  for  battle,  are  causes 
of  an  excessive  strain  upon  our  means, 
by  which  men,  cattle,  carriages  of  every 
description  as  well  as  clothing  are  ruined. 

It  is  commonly  said  that  a  long  rest 
does  not  suit  the  physical  health  of  an 
army ;  that  at  such  a  time  there  is  more 
sickness  than  during  moderate  activity. 
No  doubt  sickness  will  and  does  occur 
if  soldiers  are  packed  too  close  in  confined 
quarters;    but  the  same    thing  would 

occur  if  these  were  quarters  taken  up  on 
the  march,  and  the  want  of  air  and  exer- 
cise can  never  be  the  cause  of  such  sick- 
nesses, as  it  is  so  easy  to  give  the  soldier 
both  by  means  of  his  exercises. 

Only  think  for  a  moment,  when  the 
organism  of  a  human  being  is  in  a 
disordered  and  fainting  state,  what  a 
difference  it  must  make  to  him  whether 
he  falls  sick  in  a  house  or  is  seized  in 
the  middle  of  a  high  road,  up  to  his 
knees  in  mud,  under  torrents  of  rain,  and 
loaded  with  a  knapsack  on  his  back; 
even  if  he  is  in  a  camp  he  can  soon  be 
sent  to  the  next  village,  and  will  not 
be  entirely  without  medical  assistance, 
whilst  on  a  march  he  must  be  for  hours 
without  any  assistance,  and  then  be  made 
to  drag  himself  along  for  miles  as  a 
straggler.  How  many  trifling  illnesses 
by  that  means  become  serious,  how 
many  serious  ones  become  mortal.  Let 
us  consider  how  an  ordinary  march  in 
the  dust,  and  under  the  burning  rays  of 



[book  v. 

a  summer  Bun  may  produce  the  most 
excessive  heat,  in  which  state,  suffering 
from  intolerable  thirst,  the  soldier  then 
rushes  to  the  fresh  spring  of  water,  to 
bring  back  for  himself  sickness  and 

It  is  not  our  object  by  these  reflections 
to  recommend  less  activity  in  war ;  the 
instrument  is  there  for  use,  and  if  the 
use  wears  away  the  instrument  that  is 
only  in  the  natural  order  of  things  ;  we 
only  wish  to  see  every  thing  put  in  its 
right  place,  and  to  oppose  that  theore> 
tical  bombast  according  to  which  tha 
most  astonishing  surprises  the  most 
rapid  movements,  the  most  incessant 
activity  cost  nothing,  and  are  painted  as 
rich  mines  which  the  indolence  of  the 
general  leaves  unworked.  It  is  very 
much  the  same  with  these  mines  as  with 
those  from  which  gold  and  silver  are  ob- 
tained ;  nothing  is  seen  but  the  produce, 
and  no  one  asks  about  the  value  of  the 
work  which  has  brought  this  produce  to 

On  long  marches  outside  a  theatre  of 
war,  the  conditions  under  which  the 
march  is  made  are  no  doubt  usually 
easier,  and  the  daily  losses  smaller, 
but  on  that  account  men  with  the 
slightest  sickness  are  generally  lost  to 
the  army  for  some  time,  as  it  is  difficult  for 
convalescents  to  overtake  an  army  con- 
stantly advancing. 

Amongst  the  cavalry  the  number  of 
lame  horses  and  horses  with  sore  backs 
rises  in  an  increasing  ratio,  and  amongst 
the  carriages  many  break  down  or 
require  repair.  It  never  fails,  therefore, 
that  at  the  end  of  a  march  of  100  miles  or 
more,  an  army  arrives  much  weakened, 
particularly  as  regards  its  cavalry  and 

If  such  marches  are  necessary  on  the 
theatre  of  war,  that  is  under  the  eyes  of 
the  enemy,  then  that  disadvantage  is 
added  to  the  other,  and  from  the  two 
combined  the  losses  with  large  masses 
of  troops,  and  under  conditions  otherwise 

unfavourable  may  amount  to  something 

Only  a  couple  of  examples  in  order  to 
illustrate  our  ideas. 

When  Buonaparte  crossed  the  Niemen 
on  24th  June,  1812,  the  enormous  centre 
of  his  army  with  which  he  subsequently 
marched  against  Moscow  numbered 
801,000  men.  At  Smolensk,  on  the  15th 
August,  he  detached  13,500,  leaving,  it  is 
to  be  supposed,  287,500.  The  actual  state 
of  his  army  however  at  that  date  was 
only  182,000;  he  had  therefore  lost 
105,000.*  Bearing  in  mind  that  up  to 
that  time  only  two  eng^ements  to  speak 
of  had  taken  place,  one  between  Davoust 
and  Bragathion,  the  other  between 
Murat  and  Tolstoy-Osterman,  we  may 
put  down  the  losses  of  the  French  army 
in  action  at  10,000  men  at  most,  and 
therefore  the  losses  in  sick  and  stragglers 
within  fifty-two  days  on  a  march  of  about 
seventy  miles  direct  to  his  front,  amounted 
to  95,000,  that  is  a  third  part  of  the 
whole  army. 

Three  weeks  later,  at  the  time  of  the 
battle  of  Borodino,  the  loss  amounted  to 
144,000  (including  the  casualties  in  the 
battle),  and  eight  days  after  that  again, 
at  Moscow,  the  number  was  198,000.  The 
losses  of  this  army  in  general  were  at  the 
commencement  of  the  campaign  at  the 
rate  of  y^^y  daily,  subsequently  they  rose 
to  -r^,  and  in  the  last  period  they  in- 
creased to  ^  of  the  original  strengdi. 

The  movement  of  Napoleon  frx)m  the 
passage  of  the  Niemen  up  to  Moscow 
certainly  may  be  called  a  persistent  one ; 
still,  we  must  not  forget  that  it  lasted 
eighty-two  days,  in  which  time  he  only- 
accomplished  120  miles,  and  that  the 
French  army  upon  two  occasions  made 
regular  halts,  once  at  Wilna  for  about 
fourteen  days,  and  the  other  time  at 
Witebsk  for  about  eleven  days,  during 
which  periods  many  stragglers  had  time 

*  All  these  figures  are  taken  from  Chambray. 
Yergl.  Bd.  yii.    2^  Auflage,  {  80,  ff. 

CHAP,  xm.] 



to  rejoin.  This  fourteen  weeks'  advance 
was  not  made  at  the  worst  season  of  the 
year,  nor  over  the  worst  of  roads,  for 
it  was  summer,  and  the  roads  along 
which  they  marched  were  mostly  sand. 
It  was  the  immense  mass  of  troops 
collected  on  one  road,  the  want  of  suf- 
ficient subsistence,  and  an  enemy  who 
was  on  the  retreat,  but  by  no  means  in 
flighty  which  were  the  adverse  conditions. 

Of  the  retreat  of  the  French  army 
firom  Moscow  to  the  Niemen,  we  shaU  say 
nothing,  but  this  we  may  mention,  that 
the  Hussian  army  following  them  left 
Kaluga  120,000  strong,  and  reached 
Wilna  with  30,000.  Every  one  knows 
how  few  men  were  lost  in  actual  combats 
during  that  period. 

One  more  example  from  Bliicher's 
campaign  of  1813  in  Silesia  and  Saxony, 

a  campaign  very  remarkable  not  for  any 
long  march  but  for  the  amount  of  march- 
ing to  and  fro.  York's  corps  of  Blucher'a 
army  began  this  campaign  16th  August 
about  40,000  strong,  and  was  reduced  to 
12,000  at  the  battle  of  Leipsic,  19th  Oc- 
tober. The  principal  combats  which  this 
corps  fought  at  Goldberg,  Lowenberg, 
on  the  Katsbach,  at  Wartenburg,  and 
Mockem  (Leipsic)  cost  it  on  the  authority 
of  the  best  writers,  12,000  men.  Accord- 
ing to  that  their  losses  from  other  causes- 
in  eight  weeks  amounted  to  16,000,  or 
two-ftfths  of  the  whole. 

We  must,  therefore,  make  up  our  minds 
to  great  wear  and  tear  of  our  own  forces, 
if  we  are  to  carry  on  a  war  rich  in  move- 
ments, we  must  arrange  the  rest  of  our 
plan  accordingly,  and  above  aU  things 
the  reinforcements  which  are  to  follow. 



Ik  the  modem  system  of  war  cantonments 
have  become  again  indispensable,  because 
neither  tents  nor  a  complete  military  train 
make  an  army  independent  of  them.  Huts 
and  open-air  camps  (bivouacs  as  they  are 
called),  however  far  such  arrangements 
may  be  carried,  can  still  never  become  the 
usual  way  of  locating  troops  without  sick- 
ness gaining  the  upper  hand,  and  prema- 
turely exhausting  their  strength,  sooner  or 
later,  according  to  the  state  of  the  weather 
orclimate.  Thecampaign inKussiain  1812 
is  one  of  the  few  in  which,  in  a  very 
severe  climate,  the  troops,  during  the  six 
months  that  it  lasted  hardly  ever  lay  in 
cantonments.    But  what  was  the  conse- 

quence of  this  extreme  effqrt,  which  should 
be  called  an  extravagance,  if  that  term 
was  not  much  more  applicable  to  the 
political  conception  of  the  enterprise  ! 

Two  things  interfere  with  the  occupa- 
tion of  cantonments — the  proximity  of 
the  enemy,  and  the  rapidity  of  movement. 
For  these  reasons  they  are  quitted  as 
soon  as  the  decision  approaches,  and  can- 
not be  again  taken  up  until  the  decision 
is  over. 

In  modem  wars,  that  is,  in  all  campaigns 
during  the  last  twenty-five  years  which  oc- 
cur to  us  at  this  moment,  the  military  ele- 
ment has  acted  with  full  energy.  Nearly 
all  that  was  possible  has  generally  been 



[book  t. 

done  in  tliem,  as  far  as  regards  activity 
and  the  utmost  effort  of  force ;  but  all 
these  campaigns  have  been  of  short  dura- 
tion, they  have  seldom  exceeded  half  a 
year ;  in  most  of  them  a  few  months  suf- 
ficed to  bring  matters  to  a  crisiSi  that  is, 
to  a  point  where  the  vanquished  enemy 
saw  himself  compelled  to  sue  for  an  ar- 
mistice or  at  once  for  peace,  or  to  a  point 
where,  on  the  conqueror's  part,  the  im- 
petus of  victory  had  exhausted  itself. 
During  this  period  of  extreme  effort  there 
could  be  little  question  of  cantonments, 
for  even  in  the  victorious  march  of  the 
pursuer,  if  there  was  no  longer  any  dan- 
ger, the  rapidity  of  movement  made  that 
kind  of  relief  impossible. 

But  when  from  any  cause  the  course 
of  events  is  less  impetuous,  when  a  more 
even  oscillation  and  balancing  of  forces 
takes  place,  then  the  housing  of  troops 
must  again  become  a  foremost  subject  for 
attention.  This  want  has  some  influence 
even  on  the  conduct  of  war  itself,  partly 
in  this  way,  that  we  seek  to  gain  more 
time  and  security  by  a  stronger  system 
of  outposts,  by  a  more  considerable  ad- 
vanced guard  thrown  further  forward ; 
and  partly  in  this  way,  that  our  measures 
are  governed  more  by  the  richness  and 
fertility  of  the  country  than  by  the  tacti- 
cal advantages  which  the  ground  affords 
in  the  geometrical  relations  of  lines  and 
points.  A  commercial  town  of  twenty  or 
thirty  thousand  inhabitants,  a  road  thickly 
studded  with  large  villages  or  flourishing 
towns  give  such  facilities  for  the  assem- 
bling in  one  position  large  bodies  of 
troops,  and  this  concentration  gives  such 
a  freedom  and  such  a  latitude  for  move- 
ment as  fully  compensate  for  the  advan- 
tages which  the  better  situation  of  some 
point  may  otherwise  present. 

On  the  form  to  be  followed  in  arrang- 
ing cantonments  we  have  only  a  few  ob- 
servations to  make,  as  this  subject  belongs 
for  the  most  part  to  tactics. 

The  housing  of  troops  comes  under 
two  heads,  inasmuch  as  it  can  either  be 

the  main  point  or  only  a  secondary  con* 
sideration.  If  the  disposition  of  the 
troops  in  the  course  of  a  campaign  is 
regulated  by  grounds  purely  tactical  and 
strategical,  and  if,  as  is  done  more  espe- 
cially with  cavaliy,  they  are  directed  for 
their  comfort  to  occupy  the  quarters 
available  in  the  vicinity  of  the  point  of 
concentration  of  the  army,  then  the  quar- 
ters are  subordinate  considerations  and 
substitutes  for  camps ;  they  must,  there- 
fore, be  chosen  within  such  a  radius  that 
the  troops  can  reach  the  point  of  assembly 
in  good  time.  But  if  an  army  takes  up 
quarters  to  rest  and  refresh,  then  the 
housing  of  the  troops  is  the  main  point, 
and  otiber  measures,  consequently  also 
the  selection  of  the  particular  point  of 
assembly,  will  be  influenced  by  that 

The  first  question  for  examination  here 
is  as  to  the  general  form  of  tlie  canton- 
ments as  a  whole.  The  usual  form  is 
that  of  a  very  long  oval,  a  mere  widen- 
ing as  it  were  of  the  tactical  order  of 
battle.  The  point  of  assembly  for  the 
army  is  in  front,  the  head-quarters  in 
rear.  Now  these  three  arrangements 
are,  in  point  of  fact,  adverse,  indeed 
almost  opposed,  to  the  safe  assembly  of 
the  army  on  the  approach  of  the  enemy. 

The  more  the  cantonments  form  a 
square,  or  rather  a  circle,  the  quicker  the 
troops  can  concentrate  at  one  point,  that 
is  the  centre.  The  farther  the  place  of 
assembly  is  placed  in  rear,  the  longer  the 
enemy  will  be  in  reaching  it,  and,  there- 
fore, the  more  time  is  left  us  to  assemble. 
A  point  of  assembly  in  rear  of  the  can- 
tonments can  never  be  in  danger.  And, 
on  the  other  hand,  the  farther  the  head- 
quarters are  in  advance,  so  much  the 
sooner  reports  arrive,  therefore  so  much 
the  better  is  the  commander  informed  of 
everything.  At  the  same  time,  the  first 
named  arrangements  are  not  devoid  of 
points  which  deserve  some  attention. 

By  the  extension  of  cantonments  in 
width,  we  have  in  view  the  protection  of 




the  country  which  would  otherwise  be  laid 
under  contributions  by  the  enemy.  But 
this  motive  is  neither  thoroughly  sound, 
nor  is  it  very  important.  It  is  only  sound 
as  far  as  regards  the  country  on  the  ex- 
tremity of  the  wings,  but  does  not  apply 
at  all  to  intermediate  spaces  existing  be- 
tween separate  divisions  of  the  army,  if 
the  quarters  of  those  divisions  are  drawn 
closer  round  their  point  of  assembly,  for 
no  enemy  will  then  venture  into  those 
intervals  of  space.  And  it  is  not  very 
important,  because  there  are  simpler 
means  of  shielding  the  districts  in  our 
vicinity  from  the  enemy's  requisitions 
than  scattering  the  army  itself. 

The  placing  of  the  point  of  assembly 
in  front  is  with  a  view  to  covering  the 
quarters,  for  the  following  reasons  : — 
In  the  first  place,  a  body  of  troops,  sud- 
denly called  to  arms,  always  leaves  be- 
hind it  in  cantonments  a  tail  of  stragglers 
— sick,  baggage,  provisions,  etc.,  etc.— 
which  may  easily  fall  into  the  enemy's 
hands  if  the  point  of  assembly  is  placed 
in  rear.  In  the  second  place,  we  have  to 
apprehend  that  if  tha  enemy  with  some 
bodies  of  cavalry  passes  by  the  advanced 
guard,  or  if  it  is  defeated  in  any  way,  he 
may  fall  upon  scattered  regiments  or 
battalions.  If  he  encounters  a  force 
drawn  up  in  good  order,  although  it  is 
weak,  and  in  the  end  must  be  over- 
powered, still  he  is  brought  to  a  stop, 
and  in  that  way  time  is  gained. 

As  respects  the  position  of  the  head- 
quarters, it  is  generally  supposed  that  it 
cannot  be  made  too  secure. 

According  to  these  different  considera- 
tions, we  may  conclude  that  the  best 
arrangement  for  districts  of  cantonments 
is  where  they  take  an  oblong  form,  ap- 
proaching the  square  or  circle,  have  the 
point  of  assembly  in  the  centre,  and  the 
head-quarters  placed  on  the  front  line, 
well  protected  by  considerable  masses  of 

What  we  have  said  as  to  covering  of 
the  wings  in  treating  of  the  disposition  of 

the  army  in  general,  applies  here  also ; 
therefore  corps  detached  from  the  main 
body,  right  and  left,  although  intended 
to  fight  in  conjunction  with  the  rest,  will 
have  particular  points  of  assembly  of  their 
own  in  the  same  line  with  the  main  body. 

Now,  if  we  reflect  that  the  nature  of 
a  country,  on  the  one  hand,  by  favour- 
able features  in  the  ground  determines 
the  most  natural  point  of  assembly,  and 
on  the  other  hand,  My  the  positions  of 
towns  and  villages  determines  the  most 
suitable  situation  for  cantonments,  then 
we  must  perceive  how  very  rarely  any 
geometrical  form  can  be  decisive  in 
our  present  subject.  But  yet  it  was 
necessary  to  direct  attention  to  it,  be- 
cause, like  all  general  laws,  it  affects 
the  generality  of  cases  in  a  greater  or  less 

What  now  remains  to  be  said  as  to  an 
advantageous  position  for  cantonments  is 
that  they  should  be  taken  up  behind 
some  natural  obstacle  of  ground  afford- 
ing cover,  whilst  the  sides  next  the  enemy 
can  be  watched  by  small  but  numerous 
detached  parties  ;  or  they  may  be  taken  up 
behind  fortresses,  which,  when  circum- 
stances prevent  any  estimate  being  formed 
of  the  strength  of  their  garrisons,  impose 
upon  the  enemy  a  greater  feeling  of  re- 
spect and  and  caution. 

We  reserve  the  subject  of  winter  quar- 
ters, covered  by  defensive  works  for  a 
separate  article. 

The  quarters  taken  up  by  troops  on  a 
march  differ  from  those  called  standing 
cantonments  in  this  way,  that,  in  order 
to  save  the  troops  from  unnecessary 
marching,  cantonments  on  a  march  are 
taken  up  as  much  as  possible  along  the 
lines  of  march,  and  are  not  at  any  con- 
siderable distance  on  either  side  of  these 
roads ;  if  their  extension  in  this  sense  does 
not  exceed  a  short  day's  march,  the  ar- 
rangement is  not  one  at  all  unfavourable 
to  the  quick  concentration  of  the  army. 

In  all  cases  in  presence  of  the  enemy, 
according  to  the  technical  phrase  in  use. 

42  ON  : 

that  IB  in  all  Cftses  where  there  is  no  con- 
aiderable  interval  between  the  advance 
(fuards  of  the  two  armies  reBpecttvely,  the 
extent  of  the  cantonmeata  and  the  time 
required  to  aBeemble  the  army  determine 
the  strength  and  position  of  the  advanced 
guard  and  outpoatB ;  but  when  these  must 
be  suited  to  the  enemy  end  circumstances, 
then,  on  the  contrary,  the  extent  of  the 
(»ntonments  must  depend  on  the  time 
which  we  can  count  upon  by  the  resist- 
ance of  the  advance  guard. 

In  the  third*  chapter  of  this  booh,  ve 
have  stated  how  this  resistance,  in  the 
case  of  an  advanced  corps,  may  be 
estimated.  From  the  time  of  that  resist- 
ance we  must  deduct  the  time  required 
for  transmission  of  reports  and  getting 
the  men  under  arms,  and  the  remainder 
only  is  tho  time  available  for  assembling 
at  the  point  of  concentration. 

We  shall  conclude  here  also  by  estab- 
lishing our  ideas  in  the  form  of  a  result, 
such  as  ia  usual  under  ordinary  circum- 
stances. If  the  distance  at  which  the 
advanced  guard  is  detached  is  the  same 
as  the  radiua  of  the  cantonmenta,  and 
the  point  of  assembly  is  fixed  in  the 
centre  of  the  cantonments,  the  time 
which  is  gained  by  checking  the  enemy's 
advance  would  be  av^Uble  for  the  trans- 
mission of  intelligence  and  getting  under 
arms,  and  would  in  most  cases  he  sufK- 
cient,  even  although  the  communication 
is  not  made  by  means  of  signals,  cannon- 
shots,  etc.,  but  simply  by  relays  of  order- 
lies, the  only  really  sure  method. 

With  an  advanced  guard  pushed 
forward  three  miles  in  &ont,  our 
cantonments  might  therefore  cover  a 
space  of  thirty  square  miles.  In  a 
moderately-peopled  country  there  would 
be  10,000  houses  in  this  apace,  which 
for  an  army  of  60,000,  after  deducting 
the  advanced  guard,  would  be  iour  men 
to  a  billet,  therefore  very  comfortable 
quarters  ;  and  for  an  army  of  twice  the 

•  8th  Chap,  f— TB. 

FAR.  [book  t. 

strength  nine  men  to  a  billet,  therefore 
still  not  very  close  quarters.  On  the 
other  hand,  if  the  advanced  guard  ia 
only  one  mile  in  &ont,  we  could  only 
occupy  a  space  of  four  square  miles ; 
for  although  the  time  gained  does  not 
diminish  exactly  in  proportion  as  the 
distance  of  tho  advanced  guard  dimin- 
ishes, and  even  with  a  distance  of  one 
mile  we  may  still  calculate  on  a  gain  of 
six  hours,  yet  the  necessity  for  caution 
increases  when  the  enemy  is  so  close. 
But  in  such  a  space  an  army  of  50,000 
men  could  only  nnd  partial  accommoda- 
tion, even  in  a  very  thickly  populated 

From  all  this  we  see  what  an  impor- 
tant part  is  played  here  by  great  or  at 
least  considerable  towns,  which  afford 
convenience  for  sheltering  10,000  or  even 
20,000  men  almost  at  one  point. 

From  this  result  it  follows  that,  if  we 
are  not  very  dose  to  the  enemy,  and  have 
a  suitable  advanced  guard  we  might  re- 
main in  cantonments,  even  if  the  enemy 
is  concentrated,  as  Frederick  the  Great 
did  at  Breslau  in  the  beginning  of  the 
year  1762,  and  Buonaparte  at  Witehsk 
in  1812.  But  although  by  preserving  a 
right  distance  and  by  suitable  arrange- 
ments we  have  no  reason  to  fear  not 
being  able  to  assemble  in  time,  even  op- 
posite an  enemy  who  is  concentrated,  yet 
we  must  not  forget  that  an  army  engaged 
in  assembling  itself  in  all  haste  can  do 
nothing  else  in  that  time ;  that  it  is  there- 
fore, for  a  time  at  least,  not  in  a  con- 
dition to  avail  itself  in  an  instant  of  for- 
tuitous opportunities,  which  deprives  it 
of  the  greater  part  of  its  really  efficient 
power.  The  consequence  of  this  is,  that 
an  army  should  only  break  itself  up  com- 
pletely in  cantonments  under  some  one 
or  other  of  the  three  following  cases : 

1.  If  the  enemy  does  the  same. 

2.  If  the  condition  of  the  troops  makes 
it  unavoidable. 

3.  If  the  more  immediate  object  with 
the  army  is  completely  limited  to  the 

CHAP,  xrv.] 



maintenance  of  a  strong  position,  and 
therefore  the  only  point  of  importance  is 
concentrating  the  troops  at  that  point  in 
good  time. 

The  campaign  of  1815  gives  a  yery 
remarkable  example  of  the  assembly  of 
an  army  from  cantonments.  General 
Ziethen,  with  Bliicher's  advanced  guard, 
30,000  men,  was  posted  at  Charleroi,  only 
two  miles  from  Sombreff,  the  place  ap- 
pointed for  the  assembly  of  the  army. 
The  farthest  cantonments  of  the  army 
were  about  eight  miles  from  Sombreff, 
that  is,  on  the  one  side  beyond  Ciney, 
and  on  the  other  near  Li^ge.  Notwith- 
standing this,  the  troops  cantoned  about 
Ciney  were  assembled  at  Ligny  several 
hours  before  the  battle  began,  and  those 
near  Li^ge  (Bulow's  Corps)  would  have 
been  also,  had  it  not  been  for  accident 
and  faulty  arrangements  in  the  commu- 
nication of  orders  and  intelligence. 

Unquestionably,  proper  care  for  the 
security  of  the  Prussian  army  was  not 
taken;  but  in  explanation  we  must  say 
that  the  arrangements  were  made  at  a 
time  when  the  French  army  was  still 
dispersed  over  widely  extended  canton- 
ments, and  that  the  real  fault  consisted 
in  not  altering  them  the  moment  the 
first  news  was  received  that  the  enemy's 
troops  were  in  movement,  and  that  Buo- 
naparte had  joined  the  army. 

Still  it  remains  noteworthy  that  the 
Prussian  army  was  able  in  any  way  tp 

concentrate  at  Sombreff  before  the  attack 
of  the  enemy.  Certainly,  on  the  night 
of  the  14th,  that  is,  twelve  hours  before 
Ziethen  was  actually  attacked,  Bltlcher 
received  information  of  the  advance  of 
the  enemy,  and  began  to  assemble  his 
army;  but  on  the  15th  at  nine  in  the 
morning,  Ziethen  was  already  hotly  en- 
gaged, and  it  was  not  until  the  same 
moment  that  General  Thielman  at  Ciney 
first  received  orders  to  march  to  Namur. 
He  had  therefore  then  to  assemble  his  di- 
visions, and  to  march  six  and  a  half  miles 
to  SombreflF,  which  he  did  in  24  hours. 
General  Bidow  would  also  have  been  able 
to  arrive  about  the  same  time,  if  the  order 
had  reached  him  as  it  should  have  done. 

But  Buonaparte  did  not  resolve  to 
make  his  attack  on  Ligny  until  two  in 
the  afternoon  of  the  16th.  The  appro- 
hension  of  having  Wellington  on  the  one 
side  of  him,  and  BlUcher  on  the  other,  in 
other  words,  the  disproportion  in  the 
relative  forces,  contributed  to  this  slow- 
ness ;  still  we  see  how  the  most  resolute 
conmiander  may  be  detained  by  the  cau- 
tious feeling  of  the  way  which  is  always 
unavoidable  in  cases  which  are  to  a  cer- 
tain degree  complicated. 

Some  of  the  considerations  here  raised 
are  plainly  more  tactical  than  strategic 
in  their  nature;  but  we  have  prefer- 
red rather  to  encroach  a  little  l3ian  to 
run  the  ri^  of  not  being  sufficiently 



This  subject  has  acquired  much  greater 
importance  in  modem  warfare  from  two 
causes  in  particular.  First,  because  the 
armies  in  general  are  now  much  greater 

than  those  of  the  middle  ages,  and  even 
those  of  the  old  world;  for,  although 
fomerly  armies  did  appear  here  and  there 
which  equalled  or  even  surpassed  modem 



[book  t. 

ones  in  size,  still  these  were  only  rare 
and  transient  occurrences,  whilst  in  mo- 
dem military  history,  since  the  time  of 
Louis  XIY.,  armies  have  always  been 
very  strong  in  number.  But  the  second 
cause  is  still  more  important,  and  belongs 
entirely  to  modem  times.  It  is  the  very 
much  closer  inner  connection  which  our 
wars  have  in  themselves,  the  constant 
state  of  readiness  for  battle  of  the  belli- 
gerents engaged  in  carrying  them  on. 
Almost  all  old  wars  consist  of  single 
unconnected  enterprises,  which  are  sepa- 
rated from  each  odier  by  intervals  during 
which  the  war  in  reality  either  completely 
rested,  and  only  still  existed  in  a  political 
sense,  or  when  the  armies  at  least  had  re- 
moved so  far  from  each  other  that  each, 
without  any  care  about  the  army  opposite, 
only  occupied  itself  with  its  ovm  wants. 

Modem  wars,  that  is,  the  wars  which 
have  taken  place  since  the  Peace  of  West- 
phalia, have,  through  the  efforts  of  re- 
spective governments,  taken  a  more 
systematic  connected  form  ;  the  military 
object,  in  general,  predominates  every- 
where, and  demands  also  that  arrange- 
ments for  subsistence  shall  be  on  an  ade- 
quate scale.  Certainly  there  were  long 
periods  of  inaction  in  the  wars  of  the 
seventeenth  and  eighteenth  centuries,  al- 
most amounting  to  a  cessation  of  war; 
these  are  the  regular  periods  passed  in 
cantonments;  still  even  those  periods 
were  subordinate  to  the  military  object ; 
they  were  caused  by  the  inclemency  of 
the  season,  not  by  any  necessity  arising 
out  of  the  subsistence  of  the  troops,  and 
as  they  regularly  terminated  with  the 
return  of  summer,  therefore  we  may  eay 
at  fiJl  events  uninterrupted  action  was  the 
rule  of  war  during  the  fine  season  of 
the  year. 

As  the  transition  from  one  situation  or 
method  of  action  to  another  always  takes 
place  gradually  so  it  was  in  die  case 
before  us.  In  the  wars  against  Louis 
XIY.  the  allies  used  still  to  send  their 
troops  into  winter  cantonments  in  distant 

provinces  in  order  to  subsist  them  the 
more  easily;  in  the  Silesian  war  that 
was  no  longer  done. 

This  systematic  and  connected  form  of 
carrying  on  war  only  became  possible 
when  states  took  regular  troops  into  their 
service  in  place  of  the  feudal  armies. 
The  obligation  of  the  feudal  law  was 
then  commuted  into  a  fine  or  contribu- 
tion :  personal  service  either  came  to  an 
end,  enlistment  being  substituted,  or  it 
was  only  continued  amongst  the  lowest 
classes,  as  the  nobility  regarded  the  fur- 
nishing a  quota  of  men  (as  is  still  done 
in  Kussia  and  Hungary)  as  a  kind  of 
tribute,  a  tax  in  men.  In  every  case,  as 
we  have  elsewhere  observed,  armies  be- 
came henceforward,  an  instrument  of  the 
cabinet,  their  principal  basis  being  the 
treasury  or  the  revenue  of  the  govern- 

Just  the  same  kind  of  thing  which  took 
place  in  the  mode  of  raising  and  keep- 
ing up  an  establishment  of  troops  could 
not  but  follow  in  the  mode  of  subsisting 
them.  The  privileged  classes  having 
been  released  from  the  first  of  these  ser- 
vices on  payment  of  a  contribution  in 
money,  the  expense  of  the  latter  could 
not  be  again  imposed  on  them  quite  so 
easily.  The  cabinet  and  the  treasury 
had  therefore  to  provide  for  the  subsistence 
of  the  army,  and  could  not  allow  it  to  be 
maintained  in  its  own  country  at  the  ex- 
pense of  the  people.  Administrations 
were  therefore  obliged  to  look  upon  the 
subsistence  of  the  army  as  an  iJfair  for 
which  they  were  specially  responsible. 
The  subsistence  thus  became  more  diffi- 
cult in  two  ways :  first,  because  it  was  an 
affair  belonging  to  government,  and  next 
because  the  forces  required  to  be  per- 
manently embodied  to  confront  those 
kept  up  in  other  states. 

Thus  arose  a  separate  military  clase 
in  the  population,  with  an  independent 
organisation  provided  for  its  subsistence, 
and  carried  out  to  the  utmost  possible 




Not  only  were  stores  of  provisions  col- 
lected,either  by  purchase  or  by  deliveries  in 
kind  £rom  the  landed  estates  (Dominial- 
lieferungen),  consequently  from  distant 
points,  and  lodged  in  magazines,  but  they 
were  also  forwarded  from  these  by  means 
of  special  wagons,  baked  near  the  quarters 
of  the  troops  in  ovens  temporarily  es- 
tablished, and  from  thence  again  carried 
away  at  last  by  the  troops,  by  means  of 
another  system  of  transport  attached  to 
the  army  itself.  We  take  a  glance  at 
this  system  not  merely  from  its  being 
characteristic  of  the  military  arrange- 
ments of  the  period,  but  also  because  it 
is  a  system  which  can  never  be  entirely 
done  away ;  some  parts  of  it  must  con- 
tinually reappear. 

Thus  military  organisation  strove  per- 
petually towards  becoming  more  inde- 
pendent of  people  and  country. 

The  consequence  was  that  in  this  man- 
ner war  became  certainly  a  more  syste- 
matic and  more  regular  affair,  and  more 
subordinated  to  the  military,  that  is  the 
political  object ;  but  it  was  at  the  same 
time  also  much  straitened  and  impeded 
in  its  movement,  and  infinitely  weakened 
in  energy.  For  now  an  army  was  tied 
to  its  magazines,  limited  to  the  working 
powers  of  its  transport  service,  and  it 
naturally  followed  that  the  tendency  of 
everything  was  to  economise  the  subsist- 
ence of  the  troops.  The  soldier  fed  on  a 
wretched  pittance  of  bread,  moved  about 
like  a  shadow,  and  no  prospect  of  a 
change  for  the  better  comforted  him 
xmder  his  privations. 

Whoever  treats  this  miserable  way  of 
feeding  soldiers  as  a  matter  of  no  moment, 
and  points  to  what  Frederick  the  Great 
did  with  soldiers  subsisted  in  this  manner, 
only  takes  a  partial  view  of  the  matter. 
The  power  of  enduring  privations  is  one 
of  the  finest  virtues  in  a  soldier,  and 
without  it  no  army  is  animated  with  the 
true  military  spirit ;  but  such  privation 
must  be  of  a  temporary  kind,  commanded 
by  the  force  of  circumstances,  and  not  the 

consequence  of  a  wretchedly  bad  system, 
or  of  a  parsimonious  abstract  calculation 
of  the  smallest  ration  that  a  man  can 
exist  upon.  When  such  is  the  case  the 
powers  of  the  men  individually  will 
always  deteriorate  physically  and  morally. 
What  Frederick  the  Great  managed  to 
do  with  his  soldiers  cannot  be  taken  as  a 
standard  for  us,  partly  because  he  was 
opposed  to  those  who  pursued  a  similar 
system,  partly  because  we  do  not  know 
how  much  more  he  might  have  effected 
if  he  had  been  able  to  let  his  troops  live 
as  Buonaparte  allowed  his  whenever  cir- 
cumstances permitted. 

The  feeding  of  horses  by  an  artificial 
system  of  supply  is,  however,  an  experi- 
ment which  has  not  been  tried,  because 
forage  is  much  more  difficult  to  provide 
on  account  of  its  bulk.  A  ration  for  a 
horse  weighs  about  ten  times  as  much  as 
one  for  a  man,  and  the  number  of  horses 
with  an  army  is  more  than  one-tenth  the 
number  of  men,  at  present  it  is  one- 
fourth  to  one-third,  and  formerly  it  was 
one-third  to  one-half,  therefore  the 
weight  of  the  forage  required  is  three, 
four,  or  five  times  as  much  as  that  of  the 
soldier's  rations  required  for  the  same 
period  of  time;  on  this  account  the 
shortest  and  most  direct  means  were 
taken  to  meet  the  wants  of  an  army  in 
this  respect,  that  is  by  foraging  expedi- 
tions. Now  these  expeditions  occasioned 
great  inconvenience  in  the  conduct  of 
war  in  other  ways,  first  by  making  it  a 
principal  object  to  keep  the  war  in  the 
enemy's  country ;  and  next  because  they 
made  it  impossible  to  remain  very  long 
in  one  part  of  the  country.  However, 
at  the  time  of  the  Silesian  war,  foraging 
expeditions  were  much  less  frequent, 
they  were  found  to  occasion  a  much 
greater  drain  upon  the  country,  and 
much  &:reater  waste  than  if  the  require- 
mentAere  -tiefied  by  means  o^f  re- 
quisitions  and  imposts. 

When  the  French  Revolution  sud- 
denly   brought    again    upon    the    war 



[book  v. 

stage  a  national  army,  the  means  which 
governments  could  command  were  found 
insufficient,  and  the  whole  system  of 
war,  which  had  its  origin  in  the  limited 
extent  of  these  means,  and  found  again 
its  security  in  this  limitation,  fell  to 
pieces,  and  of  course  in  the  downfall 
of  the  whole  was  included  that  of  the 
branch  of  which  we  are  now  speaking, 
the  system  of  subsistence.  Without 
troubling  themselves  about  magazines, 
and  stiU  less  about  such  an  organisation 
as  the  artificial  clockwork  of  which  we 
have  spoken,  by  which  the  different 
divisions  of  the  transport  service  went 
round  like  a  wheel,  the  leading  spirits  of 
the  revolution  sent  their  soldiers  into  the 
field,  forced  their  generals  to  fight,-  sub- 
sisted, reinforced  Uieir  armies,  and  kept 
alive  the  war  by  a  system  of  exaction, 
and  of  helping  themselves  to  all  they 
required  by  robbery  and  plunder. 

Between  these  two  extremes  the  war 
under  Buonaparte,  and  against  him, 
preserved  a  sort  of  medium,  that  is  to 
say,  it  just  made  use  of  such  means  as 
suited  it  best  amongst  all  that  were 
available;  and  so  it  will  be  also  in 

The  modem  method  of  subsisting 
troops,  that  is,  seizing  every  thing 
which  is  to  be  found  in  the  country 
without  regard  to  meum  et  tuum  may  be 
carried  out  in  four  difierent  ways :  that 
is,  subsisting  on  the  inhabitant,  contri- 
butions which  the  troops  themselves 
look  after,  general  contributions  and 
magazines.  All  four  are  generally  ap- 
plied together,  one  generally  prevailing 
more  than  the  others  :  still  it  sometimes 
happens  that  only  one  is  applied  entirely 
by  itsel£ 

1. — Living  .on  the    inhahitantf  or   on  the 
community,  which  is  the  same  thing. 

If  we  bear  in  mind  that  in  a  commimity 
consisting  even  as  it  does  in  groat  towns, 

of  consumers  only,  there  must  always  be 
provisions  enough  to  last  for  several 
days,  we  may  easily  see  that  the  most 
densely  populated  place  can  furnish  food 
and  quarters  for  a  day  for  about  as  many 
troops  as  there  are  inhabitants,  and  for 
a  less  number  of  troops  for  several  days 
without  the  necessity  of  any  particular 
previous  preparation.  In  towns  of  con- 
siderable size  this  gives  a  very  satis- 
factory result,  because  it  enables  us  to 
subsist  a  large  force  at  one  point.  But 
in  smaller  towns,  or  even  in  villages,  the 
supply  would  be  far  from  sufficient ;  for 
a  population  of  3,000  or  4,000  in  a 
square  mile  which  would  be  large  in 
such  a  space,  would  only  suffice  to  feed 
3,000  or  4,000  soldiers,  and  if  the  whole 
mass  of  troops  is  great  they  would  have 
to  be  spread  over  such  an  extent  of 
country  at  this  rate  as  would  hardly  be 
consistent  with  other  essential  points. 
But  in  level  countries,  and  even  in  small 
towns,  the  quantity  of  those  kinds  of 
provisions  which  are  essential  in  war  is 
generally  much  greater;  the  supply  of 
bread  which  a  peasant  has  is  generally 
adequate  to  the  consumption  of  his 
famUy  for  several,  perhaps  from  eight 
to  fourteen  days  ;  meat  can  be  obtained 
daily,  vegetable  productions  are  gener- 
ally forthcoming  in  sufficient  quantity  to 
last  till  the  following  crop.  Therefore 
in  quarters  which  have  never  been  occu- 
pied there  is  no  difficulty  in  subsisting 
troops  three  or  four  times  the  nimibor  of 
the  inhabitants  for  several  days,  which 
again  is  a  very  satisfactory  result.  Ac- 
cording to  this,  where  the  population  is 
about  2,000  or  3,000  per  square  mile, 
and  if  no  large  town  is  included,  a 
column  of  30,000  would  require  about 
four  square  miles,  which  would  be  a 
length  of  side  of  two  miles.  Therefore 
for  an  army  of  90,000,  which  we  may 
reckon  at  about  75,000  combatants,  if 
marching  in  three  columns  contiguous 
to  each  other,  wo  should  require  to  take 
up  a  front  six  miles  in  breadth  in  ease 

CHAP,  XlV.] 



three  roads  could  be  found  within  that 

If  several  columns  follow  one  another 
into  these  cantonments,  then  special 
measures  must  be  adopted  by  the  civil 
authorities,  and  in  that  way  there  can  be 
no  great  difficulty  in  obtaining  all  that 
is  required  for  a  day  or  two  more. 
Therefore  if  the  above  90,000  are  fol- 
lowed the  day  after  by  a  like  number, 
even  these  last  woxdd  suffer  no  want; 
this  makes  up  the  large  number  of 
150,000  combatants. 

Forage  for  the  horses  occasions  still 
less  difficulty,  as  it  neither  requires 
grinding  nor  baking,  and  as  there  must 
be  forage  forthcoming  in  sufficient  quan- 
tity to  last  the  horses  in  the  country 
until  next  harvest,  therefore  even  where 
there  is  little  stall-feeding,  still  there 
should  be  no  want,  only  the  deliveries  of 
forage  should  certainly  be  demanded 
from  the  community  at  large,  not  from 
the  inhabitants  individually.  Besides,  it 
is  supposed  that  some  attention  is,  of 
course,  paid  to  the  nature  of  the  country 
in  making  arrangements  for  a  march,  so 
as  not  to  send  cavalry  mostly  into  places 
of  commerce  and  manufactures,  and 
into  districts  where  there  is  no  forage. 

The  conclusion  to  be  drawn  from  this 
hasty  glance  is,  therefore,  that  in  a 
moderately  populated  country,  that  is,  a 
country  of  from  2,000  to  3,000  souls  per 
square  mile,  an  army  of  150,000  com- 
batants may  be  subsisted  by  the  inhabi- 
tants and  community  for  one  or  two  days 
within  such  a  narrow  space  as  will  not 
interfere  with  its  concentration  for  battle, 
that  is,  therefore,  that  such  an  army 
can  be  subsisted  on  a  continuous  march 
without  magazines  or  other  prepara- 

On  this  result  were  based  the  enter- 
prises of  the  French  army  in  the  revo- 
lutionary war,  and  under  Buonaparte. 
They  marched  from  the  Adige  to  the 
Lower  Danube,  and  from  the  Bhine  to  the 
Yifltula,  with  little  means  of  subsistence 

except  upon  the  inhabitants,  and  without 
ever  suffering  want.  As  their  undertak- 
ings depended  on  moral  and  physical 
superiority,  as  they  were  attended  with 
certain  results,  and  were  never  delayed 
by  indecision  or  caution,  therefore  their 
progress  in  the  career  of  victory  was 
generally  that  of  an  uninterrupted  march. 
If  circumstances  are  less  favourable, 
if  the  population  is  not  so  great,  or  if 
it  consists  more  of  artisans  than  agri- 
culturists, if  the  soil  is  bad,  the  country 
already  several  times  overrun — then  of 
course  the  results  will  fall  short  of 
what  we  have  supposed.  Still,  we  must 
remember  that  if  the  breadth  of  the 
front  of  a  column  is  extended  from  two 
miles  to  three,  we  get  a  superficial  ex- 
tent of  country  more  than  double  in 
size,  that  is,  instead  of  four  we  command 
nine  square  miles,  and  that  this  is  still 
an  extent  which  in  ordinary  cases  will 
always  admit  of  concentration  for  action ; 
we  see  therefore  that  even  under  un- 
favourable circumstances  this  method  of 
subsistence  will  still  be  always  com- 
patible with  a  continuous  march. 

But  if  a  halt  of  several  days  takes 
place,  then  great  distress  must  ensue  if 
preparations  have  not  been  made  before- 
hand for  such  an  event  in  other  ways. 
Now  these  preparatory  measures  are  of 
two  kinds,  and  without  them  a  consi- 
derable army  even  now  cannot  exist. 
The  first  is  equipping  the  troops  with 
a  wagon  train,  by  means  of  which  bread 
or  flour,  as  the  most  essential  part  of 
their  subsistence,  can  be  carried  with 
them  for  a  few,  that  is,  for  three  or  four 
days ;  if  to  this  we  add  three  or  four 
days'  rations  which  the  soldier  himself 
can  carry,  then  we  have  provided  what 
is  most  indispensable  in  the  way  of 
subsistence  for  eight  days. 

The  second  arrangement  is  that  of  a 
regular  commissariat,  which  whenever 
there  is  a  moment's  halt  gathers  provi- 
sions from  distant  localities,  so  that  at 
any  moment  we  can  pass  over  from,  the 




system  of  quartering  on  the  inhabitants 
to  a  different  system. 

Subsisting  in  cantonments  has  the  im- 
mense advantage  that  iKirdly  any  trans- 
port is  required,  and  that  it  is  done  in 
the  shortest  time,  but  certainly  it  sup- 
poses as  a  prior  condition  that  canton- 
ments can  be  provided  for  all  the  troops. 

2. —  Subsistence  through  exactions  enforced 
hy  the  troops  themselves, 


If  a  single  battalion  occupies  a  camp, 
this  camp  may  be  placed  in  the  vicinity 
of  some  villages,  and  these  may  receive 
notice  to  furnish  subsistence;  then  the 
method  of  subsistence  would  not  differ 
essentially  from  the  preceding  mode. 
But,  as  is  most  usual,  if  the  mass  of  troops 
to  be  encamped  at  some  one  point  is 
much  larger,  there  is  no  alternative  but 
to  make  a  collection  in  common  within 
the  circle  of  districts  marked  out  for  the 
purpose,  collecting  sufficient  for  the  sup- 
ply of  one  of  the  parts  of  the  army,  a 
brigade  or  division,  and  afterwards  to 
make  a  distribution  from  the  common 
stock  thus  collected. 

The  first  glance  shows  that  by  such 
a  mode  of  proceeding  the  subsistence 
of  a  large  army  would  be  a  mat- 
ter of  impossibility.  The  collection  made 
£rom  the  stores  in  any  given  district 
in  the  country  will  be  much  less  than  if 
the  troops  had  taken  up  their  quarters 
in  the  same  district,  for  when  thirty  or 
forty  men  take  possession  of  a  farmer's 
house  they  can  if  necessary  coUect  the 
last  mouthful,  but  one  officer  sent  with 
a  few  men  to  collect  provisions  has  neither 
time  nor  means  to  hunt  out  aU  the  pro- 
visions that  may  be  stored  in  a  house, 
often  also  he  has  not  the  means  of  trans- 
port; he  will  therefore  only  be  able  to  col- 
lect a  small  proportion  of  what  is  actually 
forthcoming.  Besides,  in  camps  the  troops 
are  crowded  togetlier  in  such  a  manner  at 
one  point,  that  the  range  of  country  from 
which  provisions  can  be  collected  in  a 

hurry  is  not  of  sufficient  extent  to  Ornish 
the  whole  of  what  is  vequired.  What 
could  be  done  in  the  way  of  supplying 
30,000  men,  within  a  circle  of  a  mile  in 
diameter,  or  from  an  area  of  three  or 
four  square  miles  ?  Moreover  it  would 
seldom  be  possible  to  collect  even  what 
there  is,  for  the  most  of  the  nearest  ad- 
jacent villages  would  be  occupied  by  small 
bodies  of  troops,  who  would  not  allow  any- 
thing to  be  removed.  Lastly,  by  such  a 
measure  there  would  be  the  greatest 
waste,  because  some  men  would  get  more 
than  they  required,  whilst  a  great  deal 
would  be  lost,  and  of  no  benefit  to  any  one. 

The  result  is,  therefore,  that  the  sub- 
sistence of  troops  by  forced  contributions 
in  this  manner  can  only  be  adopted  with 
success  when  the  bodies  of  troops  are  not 
too  large,  not  exceeding  a  division  of 
8,000  or  10,000  men,  and  even  then  it  is 
only  to  be  resor